Tuesday 21 May
Damara woolly bat (Kerivoula argentata)
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Damara woolly bat fact file
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Damara woolly bat description
The Damara woolly bat is a small member of the Vespertillidonae, the largest and most widespread family of bats. Covered in long, soft hair with curly tips, the woolly bats are most easily recognised by their grizzly appearance and by a fringe of hair which sits around the hind edge of the naked, reddish-brown interfemoral membrane, which stretches between the legs (3). Rich reddish-brown hair covers the upperparts, while the greyer, less grizzled appearance of the underparts, combined with a slightly larger size, distinguishes the Damara woolly bat from its close Southern African relative, the lesser woolly bat (Kerivoula lanosa) (4). The wings are short and broad, making flight slow (4), and the ears are large and funnel-shaped, ending in rounded tips. The tragus, a fleshy projection covering the inner ear, is long and pointed (3). Lacking a noseleaf on its simple muzzle, the Damara woolly bat instead emits, or ‘shouts’, ultrasonic signals through its mouth (4).
- Total length: 8.3 – 10 cm (2)
- Tail length: 4.2 – 5 cm (2)
- Forearm length: 3.6 – 4.1 cm (2)
- Wingspan: 25 cm (2)
- 6.0 – 9.0 g (2)
Damara woolly bat biology
Many details of the Damara woolly bat's biology and life history remain sketchy but there are a number of facts that researchers have identified. This bat is nocturnal and relies on echolocation to navigate and catch its insect prey. It has a low intensity call which lasts for around two millisecondswith a moderately high peak frequency (90 to 118 kHz) (4). This combination allows the bat to get as close as three metres from its prey before the call is detected (7). Flying low in a slow fluttering style, the bat forages near the ground hunting nocturnal insects (2).
The Damara woolly bat is mainly solitary, usually roosting alone, but may roost in colonies of up to six members (2). Members of the Vespertillidonae family typically produce one or two offspring born after a gestation period of 40 to 100 days. The female takes the bulk of the parental responsibility, but males of the Kerivoula genus may remain associated with the female and offspring. However, there is no direct information about reproduction in the Damara woolly bat (4).Top
Damara woolly bat range
Whilst rare, the range of the Damara woolly bat is vast, stretching across much of Africa. Countries in which it has been identified include Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe (2) (4).Top
Damara woolly bat habitat
This bat flies low over well-watered savanna, woodland and forest (5), roosting in daylight hours under thatched roofs, piles of dead leaves (3), and the abandoned hanging nests of the masked weaverbird (Ploceus velatus), spectacled weaverbird (Ploceus ocularis) and the scarlet-chested sunbird (Nectarinia senegalensis) (6).Top
Damara woolly bat status
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Damara woolly bat threats
Threats common to all Southern African bats include habitat transformation due to deforestation and the use of agricultural and timber pesticides (5). Whilst all bats are vulnerable to such threats due to their low reproductive rate, information is not available on the specific threats to the Damara woolly bat, since this bat is so rare, scattered and ill-documented (5).Top
Damara woolly bat conservation
Efforts are being made to collect and record bat species throughout Southern Africa. By documenting bat species and numbers it is hoped that specific threats to rare species can be identified and controlled (5).Top
Find out more
Find out more about the conservation of bats at:
Bat Specialist Group:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
- Detecting objects by reflected sound. Used by bats and odontocete cetaceans (toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises) for orientation and to detect and locate prey.
- A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
- The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
- Interfemoral membrane
- The skin that stretches between the hind legs and tail of a bat, used in flight.
- Active at night.
IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
- Apps, P. (2000) Smither's Mammals of Southern Africa: A Field Guide. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
- Stuart, S. and Stuart, T. (2007) Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
- Monadjem, A., Taylor P.J., Cotterill, F.P.D. and Corrie Schoeman. M. (In Press)Bats of Southern & Central Africa: A Biogeographic and Taxonomic Synthesis. University of Witwatersrand Press, Johannesburg.
- Taylor, P.J., Cotterill, F.P.D., Van der Merwe, M., White, W. and Jacobs, D.S. (2004) New biogeographical records of five rare bat species (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae and Vespertilionidae) from South Africa. Durban Museum Novitates, 29: 104-108.
- Kunz, T.H. and Fenton, M.B. (2003) Bat Ecology. Chicage University Press, Chicago.
- Fullard, J. H. and Thomas, D.W. (1981) Detection of certain African, insectivorous bats by sympatric, tympanate moths. Journal of Comparative Physiology, 143: 363-368.
© Natalie Weber
Institute of Experimental Ecology
University of Ulm
Albert Einstein Allee 11
Tel: +49 (0) 9131 81 5772
Fax: +49 (0) 731 50 22683
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