Hemprich’s long-eared bat (Otonycteris hemprichii)
|Also known as:||desert long-eared bat|
|Size||Total length: 11.8 – 13.5 cm (2)|
Forearm: 5 – 7 cm (2)
Ear length: 4.2 cm (2)
|Weight||20 g (2)|
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
A relatively widespread species (1), Hemprich’s long-eared bat has thick, soft fur measuring up to 11 millimetres in length, which varies from sandy-yellow to dark brown in colour on the upperparts and white on the underbelly (2). The large ears are yellow-brown in colour, are situated almost horizontally on the head, and have very large tragi; these fleshy prominences, found at the front of the external openings of each ear, are almost half the size of the ear itself (2). The semi-translucent wings are broad, leathery and hairless, and are yellow-brown in colour close to the body but a paler brown towards the edges (2). This carnivorous bat has an elongated, narrow head and narrow, crescent-shaped nostrils (2).
Hemprich’s long-eared bat is widely, but sparsely, distributed over around 25 countries (1). Its range extends from Morocco and Niger, eastwards to north-west India (1).
This bat is adapted to extremely dry, sparsely vegetated environments, such as those of the Palaearctic deserts and sub-deserts. It favours areas where there is an abundance of rocks, providing fissures and cracks in which it can roost, but it can also be found in urban areas where it makes use of buildings as roosts (1).
Hemprich’s long-eared bat is mostly solitary; however, it occasionally clusters in groups of up to 18 females (2). It begins its activities just before dusk, when it flies from its roost in search of food. Hemprich’s long-eared bat is carnivorous and most commonly insectivorous, preferring to feed on darkling beetles, termites and cockroaches, as well as grasshoppers, crickets and locusts (2). It is described as a ‘ground-gleaner’ as it collects its food from near or on the ground (1). Like other bats, this species uses echolocation for both hunting and orientation (4). It produces a short series of low frequency clicks for this purpose, ranging from 18 to 40 kHz with a maximum intensity of 30 to 32 kHz, increasing the rate of the clicks as it approaches prey (2).
Specific information on reproduction in Hemprich’s long-eared bat is scarce; however, observations indicate that females generally produce litters of two young at a time (2). As with all mammals, after birth the young are nourished by their mother’s milk for a time before being weaned and reaching independence (5).
Hemprich’s long-eared bat is thought to have a large global population, is relatively common in certain areas, and is not thought to be facing any major threats. Therefore, it is not considered to be at risk of extinction (5). Although pesticides are believed to be impacting this species by causing a decline in numbers of insect prey and by contaminating its food, this is not currently considered to be a serious threat (5).
Hemprich’s long-eared bat is presumed to occur in some protected areas within its range and is protected by law in some countries (1). Further studies are required into the effect of pesticides on Hemprich’s long-eared bat, especially with a view to minimising their impact on the species (1).
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- Carnivorous: feeding on animals.
- Echolocation: detecting objects by reflected sound. Used by bats and odontocete cetaceans (toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises) for orientation and to detect and locate prey.
- Genus: 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.
- Insectivorous: feeding primarily on insects.
- Palaearctic: a large geographical region with a distinct biodiversity of plants and animals, which covers Europe, old USSR territories, part of North Africa, and North Asia.
IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
- Gharaibeh, B.M. and Qumsiyeh, M.B. (1995) Otonycteris hemprichii. Mammalian Species, 514: 1-4.
- Altringham, J.D. (1996) Bats: Biology and Behaviour. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Macdonald, D.W. and Tattersall, F.T. (2001) Britain's Mammals: The Challenge for Conservation. The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford University.
- Morris, P. (1993) A Red Data Book for British Mammals. Mammal Society, Bristol.