Trident leaf-nosed bat (Asellia tridens)

Also known as: Geoffroy's trident leaf-nosed bat, trident bat.
GenusAsellia (1)
SizeLength: 6.6 – 9 cm (2)
Weight6 – 10 g (2)

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

The trident leaf-nosed bat is named after its distinctive nose-leaf, a fleshy structure surrounding the nose, common to many bats, which on this species has three projections; the outer two projections have blunt tips while the central one is pointed (3) (4) (5). The fur of the trident leaf-nosed bat varies in colour, from pale greyish-brown to a pale yellow, and the underside is whitish (3) (5) (6). The ears are very large and almost hairless (3) (5) (6), and the tail projects up to five millimetres beyond the flight membrane (8). The trident leaf-nosed bat is also distinguished by the lack of a tragus (the bump in front of the opening of the ear), which is very well-developed in most bats (7). 

The trident leaf-nosed bat is found throughout northern Africa and the Middle East. Its range extends from Mauritania in the west to Pakistan in the east, and from Iraq in the north to Ethiopia in the south (9).

An inhabitant of arid environments, the trident leaf-nosed bat roosts in caves and artificial structures, such as tunnels and old temples. A roost was even discovered under the iron roof of a shed in Iraq, where temperatures soared to around 38 degrees Celsius (2).

The trident leaf-nosed bat roosts in very big groups of hundreds to thousands of individuals. It is a nocturnal animal, leaving the roost in the late evening to hunt its prey, which includes beetles and moths (10).

Like many bats, this species uses echolocation to perceive its surroundings and hunt prey. In fact it has been found that the trident leaf-nosed bat echolocates with such accuracy that it can detect and avoid wires with a diameter of only 0.65 millimetres (11). The mating system of this bat has not been studied in much detail, but it is known that female bats reach sexual maturity at two years of age and normally give birth to a single young each year in early June, after a gestation period of nine to ten weeks (12) (13).

Due to its wide range and large population this species is currently not considered to be threatened with extinction (1). However, like almost all bats, some populations of the trident leaf-nosed bat may be negatively impacted by the disturbance of their roosting sites, and also by the reduction or contamination of their insect prey as a result of pesticide use (1).

It is probable that throughout its large range, the trident leaf-nosed bat occurs within some protected areas (1). Further research into the effects of pesticides on the food web has been recommended, particularly the investigation of ways to minimise the impact of pesticides on this species (1).

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

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
  2. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  3. Ferguson, W. (2002) Mammals of Israel. Gefen Publishers, New York.
  4. Nader, I.A. (2000) Bats of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Journal of the Saudi Arabian Natural History Society, 4: 1-15.
  5. Weber, N. (1955) Notes on Iraq Insectivora and Chiroptera. Journal of Mammalogy, 36(1): 123-126.
  6. Qumsiyeh, M. (1996) Mammals of the Holy Land. Texas Tech University Press, Texas.
  7. Lawrence, E. (2008) Henderson’s Dictionary of Biology. Prentice Hall, England.
  8. Hoath, R. (2003) A Field Guide to Mammals of Egypt. American University in Cairo Press, Cairo. 
  9. Wilson, D.E. and Reeder, D.M. (2005) Mammal Speciesof the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, London.
  10. Whitaker Jr., J. (2002) The diet of some insectivorous bats from northern Israel. Mammalian Biology, 67(6): 378-380.
  11. Gustafson, Y. and Schnitzler, H.U. (1979) Echolocation and obstacle avoidance in the hipposiderid bat Asellia tridens. Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, 131(2): 161-167.
  12. African Wildlife Foundation (November, 2009)
  13. Qumsiyeh, M., Amr, Z. and Al-Oran, R. (1991) Family Hipposideridae leaf-nosed bats genus Asellia. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 22(4): 279.