The only species in its genus, the long-snouted bat (Platalina genovensium) is aptly named for its greatly elongated muzzle, an adaptation for feeding on the pollen and nectar of flowers (3) (4) (5). Its tongue is also long and extensible, and is covered in bristle-like projections known as ‘papillae’ (4) (5). The muzzle of the long-snouted bat bears numerous short whiskers (3), and has is a diamond-shaped noseleaf (4).
The long-snouted bat has relatively long, pale brown fur, with the individual hairs having a whitish base and brown tip (3) (5). The tail membrane (interfemoral membrane) is quite long and sparsely haired, and the tail itself is short, only extending about a third of the way into the membrane (3) (4).
Another distinguishing feature of the long-snouted bat is the shape of its inner upper incisor teeth, which are broad and spatulate (spoon-shaped) (3) (4) (5).
- Also known as
- Peruvian long-tongued bat.
- Total length: 7.2 - 8.9 cm (2)
- Tail length: 0.5 - 1.1 cm (2)
- Forearm length: 4.6 - 5.3 cm (2) (3)
- 12.8 - 26.5 g (2)
Long-snouted bat biology
Relatively little is known about the biology of the long-snouted bat. However, its highly specialised muzzle and tongue are believed to be adaptations for feeding on the pollen and nectar of the flowers of columnar cacti, such as Weberbauerocereus weberbaueri (3) (4) (5) (6) (7). It may also eat some seeds, fruit and occasional insects (6). The long-snouted bat is likely to be an important pollinator of Weberbauerocereus weberbaueri and other cacti species, and may also disperse their seeds (6) (7).
Long-snouted bat colonies may number up to 50 individuals, and consist of either males and females or only males. Within the roost, the bats may separate into smaller subgroups of about five to seven individuals (6). No information is available on reproduction in the long-snouted bat, but pregnant females have been captured in September (1) (4) (5).
Long-snouted bat range
The long-snouted bat is known only from five locations in western Peru (1) (4) (5).
Long-snouted bat habitat
This species is found in relatively dry regions, at elevations from near sea level to about 2,600 metres. The long-snouted bat has been recorded roosting in caves, as well as in mines, bridges, tunnels and other man-made constructions (1) (3) (4) (5) (6).
In some areas, the long-snouted bat appears to occupy habitats containing columnar cacti such as Weberbauerocereus weberbaueri (6).
Long-snouted bat status
The long-snouted bat is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Long-snouted bat threats
The long-snouted bat appears to have fairly specific habitat requirements, being dependent on areas with columnar cacti. Unfortunately, this habitat is rapidly disappearing as a result of settlement and urbanisation (1) (6), and the long-snouted bat is thought to be in decline (1). This species is also negatively affected by droughts, which reduce the fruit and flower production of cacti. These conditions are sometimes caused by El Niño events (1) (6), which could become more common with global climate change.
A further threat to the long-snouted bat comes from harvesting for traditional medicine. Within its range, bats of various species are collected and sold for their purported medicinal values, but it is unclear whether this harvest is sustainable over the long term (6).
Long-snouted bat conservation
There are no specific conservation measures known to be in place for the long-snouted bat, although it is reported to occur in some protected areas (1). This rare mammal is still relatively poorly understood, and further research is needed into its populations and ecology, particularly in light of its potentially important role as a pollinator (6).
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- El Niño
- A natural phenomenon that happens every 4 to 12 years, and lasts for several months, when upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water does not occur. This causes the warming of ocean surface water off the western coast of South America and causes die-offs of plankton and fish. It also affects Pacific jet stream winds, altering storm tracks and creating unusual weather patterns in various parts of the world.
- 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 front or cutting teeth.
- Interfemoral membrane
- The skin that stretches between the hind legs and tail of a bat, used in flight.
- A fleshy structure surrounding the nose, common to many bats. It is believed to function in focusing echolocation calls (high-pitched calls used in orientation and to locate prey) emitted from the nose.
- An animal that in the act of visiting a plant’s flowers transfers pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
IUCN Red List (May, 2011)
Aragón, G. and Aguirre, M. (2007) Conservación, distribución y densidad poblacional de Platalina genovensium (Thomas, 1928) en las Lomas del Morro Sama, distrito de Sama, Provincia de Tacna. Zonas Áridas, 11(1): 219-232.
Gardner, A.L. (2008) Mammals of South America. Volume 1: Marsupials, Xenarthrans, Shrews, and Bats. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Nowak, R.M. (1991) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
Eisenberg, J.F. and Redford, K.H. (2000) Mammals of the Neotropics. Volume 3. The Central Neotropics: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Sahley, C.T. and Baraybar, L.E. (1996) Natural history of the long-snouted bat, Platalina genovensium (Phyllostomidae: Glossophaginae) in southwestern Peru. Vida Silvestre Neotropical, 5(2): 101-109.
Sahley, C.T. (1996) Bat and hummingbird pollination of an autotetraploid columnar cactus, Weberbauerocereus weberbaueri (Cactaceae). American Journal of Botany, 83(10): 1329-1336.