Hildegarde’s tomb bat is insectivorous, primarily feeding on grasshoppers, moths and butterflies (1) (3). Not much is known about its hunting methods, but, as with other bat species, echolocation is considered to play a vital role (2).
Large colonies of Hildegarde’s tomb bats roost in open areas of caves. This species often co-habits with other bat species, such as the African sheath-tailed bat (Coleura afra) and the Persian trident bat (Triaenops persicus) (2). Colonies are not thought to migrate, but local cave to cave movements may occur (2) (4).
Hildegarde’s tomb bat has a polygamous mating system, with dominant males maintaining year-round territories within the roosting site. Harems of females and young may be maintained by a single dominant male, or a group of males (2). The reproductive cycle of Hildegarde’s tomb bats coincides with the seasonal fluctuations in food supply. Mating usually occurs during the rainy season between April and June. A second period of sexual activity occurs during the short rains between November and December. In this second period, mating does not usually occur, and the behaviour is thought to help maintain male territories and group dynamics (2) (3). The female usually gives birth in December (2).
The male Hildegarde’s tomb bat exhibits a seasonal weight fluctuation. With a larger available food supply during the rainy season, extra fat is deposited in order to sustain the male during competitive mating and the dry season. Females show less fluctuation, exhibiting weight change only during pregnancy (2). This weight change distinguishes Hildegarde’s tomb bat from other members of the same order (3).