Kuhl’s pipistrelle (Pipistrellus kuhlii)
|French:||Pipistrelle De Kuhl|
|Spanish:||Murciélago De Borde Claro|
|Size||Total length: 8.3 - 10 cm (2)|
Tail length: 3.1 - 4.5 cm (2)
Forearm length: 3 - 3.5 cm (2)
|Weight||4 - 10 g (2)|
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Kuhl’s pipistrelle is a small bat with a long tail, a well-developed interfemoral (tail) membrane, and a knife-shaped tragus in front of the ears (3) (4). The fine, dense fur is light brown to reddish brown on the back, with the individual hairs having slaty black bases. The underparts are paler, often whitish, and the wing membranes are dark brown to black, with a characteristic white margin, particularly between the foot and the fifth finger of the hand (2) (3) (4). There is much regional variation in the colouration of this species (2) (3). The male Kuhl’s pipistrelle is slightly smaller than the female (4).
Kuhl’s pipistrelle has a wide distribution, occurring across North Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula, and into southwest Asia, as far east as Pakistan and India, and north to Kazakhstan (1) (3) (5) (6). The species may also have been expanding its range northwards in Europe and Russia (1). However, populations from sub-Saharan Africa and the Canary Islands are now considered to be a different species, Pipistrellus hesperidus (1).
Recorded from elevations of up to 2,000 metres, Kuhl’s pipistrelle forages over a variety of habitats, from oases in deserts, to temperate grassland, to forest, although it is usually found near permanent water. The species may also be found in agricultural and urban areas, and often roosts in crevices in buildings, as well as in rock crevices and under loose bark (1) (3) (4).
As this species has recently been split from the related Pipistrellus hesperidus (1), much of the information available on its biology may relate to P. hesperidus. However, the biology of these two small pipistrelle bats is likely to show many similarities. This species may roost in colonies numbering from around 30 to 100 individuals (1), and, like other pipistrelle bats (5), Kuhl’s pipistrelle is typically one of the first bat species to emerge in the evening (4), when it forages for small aerial insects with a slow but acrobatic flight (4) (7). Although little information is available on hibernation in Kuhl’s pipistrelle, it is reported to be active from around January to September (8). Male Kuhl’s pipistrelles are in breeding condition in August and September, with dominant reproductive males roosting alone and courting females along specific routes (8). The female gives birth to a single young each year, during spring or early summer (4) (8), although others report that this species gives birth to twins (2).
Kuhl’s pipistrelle is a widespread and abundant species, and populations are increasing in parts of its range. As such, the species is not considered globally threatened (1). Part of the success of this small bat is probably due to its ability to live in urban areas, and to roost in even inhabited human dwellings (8), and within its range this species is often one of the most common bat species around human settlements (3). No major threats to Kuhl’s pipistrelle are known, although the use of pesticides to eradicate mosquitoes, particularly in urban areas, may reduce its food supply in these areas (1). The intensification of farming and increased use of pesticides may also reduce prey availability (6) (9), although it is not known to what extent this affects Kuhl’s pipistrelle. Bats are often also affected by toxic chemicals used to treat wood in buildings (5) (6) (9).
There are no known specific conservation measures in place for Kuhl’s pipistrelle. However, it occurs in a number of protected areas, and is protected by law in most of Europe (1). This small bat is also protected in parts of its range under the Bonn Convention (Eurobats) (10), the Bern Convention (11), and under Annex IV of the EU Habitats and Species Directive (12).
To find out more about the conservation of Kuhl’s pipistrelle and other bat species see:
- Bat Conservation International:
- Hutson, A.M., Mickleburgh, S.P. and Racey, P.A. (2001) Microchiropteran Bats: Global Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Chiroptera Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. Available at:
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- Hibernation: a winter survival strategy characteristic of some mammals in which an animal’s metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. Whilst hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer.
- Tragus: a soft cartilaginous projection extending in front of the external opening of the ear. In bats, it plays an important role in filtering returning echoes in echolocation.
IUCN Red List (August, 2009)
- Arslan, A. and Albayrak, I. (2005) Taxonomic status of Kuhl’s pipistrelle Pipistrellus kuhlii (Kuhl, 1817) in Turkey (Mammalia: Chiroptera). Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, 8(12): 1699 - 1702.
- Alsharhan, A et al. (2008) Terrestrial Environment of Abu Dhabi Emirate. Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
- Mills, M.G.L. and Hes, L. (1997) The Complete Book of Southern African Mammals. Struik, Cape Town.
- Nowak, R.M. (1991) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
Hutson, A.M., Mickleburgh, S.P. and Racey, P.A. (2001) Microchiropteran Bats: Global Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Chiroptera Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. Available at:
- Goiti, U., Vecin, P., Garin, I., Saloña, M. and Aihartza, J.R. (2003) Diet and prey selection in Kuhl’s pipistrelle Pipistrellus kuhlii (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) in south-western Europe. Act Theriologica, 48(4): 457 - 468.
- Qumsiyeh, M.B. (1996) Mammals of the Holy Land. Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock, Texas.
- Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats (Eurobats) (August, 2009)
Council of Europe: Bern Convention (August, 2009)
EU Habitats Directive (August, 2009)