African microbats

Sheath-tailed bat (Coleura afra); photographed after disturbance [4]

A close-up of one of three African sheath-tailed bats (Coleura afra) that flew into my room yesterday evening. These little guys are small emballonurid bats, but cause quite the ruckus every night. The love to roost in the dark vents near the roof of our house, and I always fall asleep to their cute high-pitched bickering. A lot of microchiropterans can have a menacing attitude when cornered or held. When I approached this little one, it climbed around to face me and gave a sharp shriek while bearing its teeth. Shortly afterwards I took this photo and helped it and its two bat companions get along their way, back into the night sky. African sheath-tailed bats are distributed mostly in central and eastern Africa, with some small populations in western Africa and Angola. They are insectivorous, echolocating to prey upon flying moths, beetles, and other airborne insects, and have sharp incisors and shearing molars to back up their exoskeleton crushing habits.

African house bat (Scotophilus sp.). Photographed w/ blue LED light while stunned on the ground [2], not during flight, and isolated on black background in post-processing.

African house bats (Scotophilus sp.) emerge from their lairs every evening to feed on the thousands of scarabs, weevils, and moths that are attracted to the lights. So far only one bat, the yellow-winged bat (Lavia frons) has landed for a moment long enough for identification, but yesterday this Scotophilus crashed into our window, lying stunned on the ground. Initially we were all concerned about its recovery, but after a few short flights it managed to lift off and disappear into the night sky.

African house bat (Scotophilus sp.); photographed while stunned [1]
Polyclaeis sp., a common weevil prey of African house bats. Photographed after capture under controlled conditions [6]

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