Egyptian tomb bat (Taphozous perforatus)

GenusTaphozous (1)
SizeLength: 9.4 - 11.2 cm (2)
Tail length: 2 - 2.7 cm (2)
Forearm length: 6.1 - 6.6 cm (2)

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The Egyptian tomb bat is a fairly small bat (2), with fine, silky fur that is a mixture of dark brown and charcoal grey on the back, creamy grey on the underparts, and pale brown on the throat (3). The wings are dark brown in the centre and fade into a creamy colour at the tips (4). It has long, sharply-pointed ears with a mushroom-shaped tragus (a fleshy projection at the entrance of the ear) and tufts of hair behind each ear (2). Female Egyptian tomb bats are generally larger than the males (2). The Egyptian tomb bat has excellent eyesight and can spot prey from large distances (4), which, along with the long, narrow wings that allow it to fly rapidly, makes the Egyptian tomb bat a proficient hunter (5).

 The Egyptian tomb bat is a widespread species, being found in northern and sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and east to Pakistan and India (1).

Despite its name, the Egyptian tomb bat does not live exclusively in Egypt or in ancient tombs (3), but is found mainly in desert areas (6), and roosts in tiny cracks in rocks, caves, and buildings, including ancient Egyptian monuments (7) (8). It has also been found in open woodland, where it favours areas bordering rivers (1).

The Egyptian tomb bat roosts in groups typically containing six to ten individuals, although larger colonies may also be found (2), and this species may sometimes roost alongside mouse-tailed bats (Rhinopoma species) and the Egyptian slit-faced bat (Nycteris thebaica) (2). The Egyptian tomb bat typically emerges at dusk (2), although it has been known to hunt in the daytime (4). Using echolocation (9), the Egyptian tomb bat detects and captures prey whilst flying rapidly at speeds of about eight metres per second at high altitudes (5). It feeds primarily on moths, but also consumes a variety of others insects, such as termites, beetles and crickets (5) (10).

Little is known about reproduction in this species, except that it is thought breeding takes place in April and May in Egypt, with each female giving birth to a single young (2).

Although not currently considered to be at risk of extinction, the Egyptian tomb bat does face threats in some parts of its range. Agricultural practices frequently change the landscape of the land and destroy the bat’s natural habitat (11), such as in South Asia where forests are cleared to create space for farming (1). Human activities that disturb bat roosts, such as the development of old buildings, are also a concern (1).

Although there are currently no known specific conservations measures in place for the Egyptian tomb bat, it is present in protected areas throughout its range. Further studies on this species’ distribution, abundance, ecology and reproduction have been recommended, in order to increase knowledge of this poorly understood species (1).

To find out about efforts to conserve bats around the world see:

Checked (24/08/10) by Dr Francis Gilbert, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham.

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2010)
  2. Hoath, R. (2009) A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. American University in Cairo Press, Cairo. 
  3. Skinner, D. and Chimimba, C.T. (2005) The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  4. Stuart, C. (2001) Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa. Struick Publishers, Cape Town.
  5. Rydell, J. and Yalden, D.W. (1997) The diets of two high flying bats from Africa. Journal of Zoology, 242: 69-76.
  6. Yom-Tov, Y. and Kadmon, R. (1998) Analysis of the distribution of insectivorous bats in Israel. Diversity and Distributions, 4: 63-70.
  7. Qumsiyeh, M.B., Amr, Z.S. and Al-Oran, R.B. (1998) Further records of bats from Jordan and a synopsis. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 22: 277-284.
  8. Kingdon, J. (1974) East African Mammals: An Atlas of Evolution in Africa. Volume 2:  Insectivores and Bats. Academic Press, London.
  9. Benda, P., Dietz, C., Andreas, M., Hotovy,  J., Lucan, R.K., Maltby, A., Meakin, K., Truscott, J. and Vallo, P. (2008) Bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Part 6: Bats of Sinai (Egypt) with some taxonomic, ecological and echolocation data on that fauna. Acta Societatis Zoologicae Bohemicae, 72: 1-103.
  10. Ulanovsky, N., Fenton, M.B., Tsoar, A. and Korine, C. (2004) Dynamics of jamming avoidance in echolocating bats. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 271: 1467-1475.
  11. Amr, Z.S., Baker, M.A.A. and Qumsiyeh, M.B. (2006) Bat diversity and conservation in Jordan. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 30: 235-244.