- Common Name
- Honduran White Bat
Pronunciation: ek-toh-fye-la al-bah
Conservation Status: Near Threatened (IUCN Red List)
Fun Fact: The Honduran White Bat is the first mammalian species known to incorporate carotenoids (a class of red, orange and yellow pigments found in plants) in their skin. The bright yellow color of their wings, ears and nose comes from a yellow carotenoid pigment called lutein, and is probably attained by the bat from the peel of fig fruits.
Honduran White Bats are found only in Central America, ranging from Honduras through parts of eastern Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and western Panama. Also sometimes called the Honduran White Tent-making Bat, these small, leaf-nosed bats roost in leaf ‘tents’. Bats strategically cut along the ribs of Heliconia leaves with their teeth, creating a folded tent-like structure. Colonies tend to be small, with bats roosting in groups of 2 to 15 individuals.
One of the two smallest frugivorous bat species in the world, Honduran White Bats specialize on figs, particularly one species of fig (Ficus colombrine). Likely as a result of this specialization, Honduran White Bats have relatively large home ranges compared to other, larger fruit-eating bat species. Bats also prefer to forage on trees that are close to their roosts, and may spend all night eating at a tree.
Galván, I., Garrido-Fernández, J., Ríos, J., Pérez-Gálvez, A., Rodríguez-Herrera, B., & Negro, J. J. (2016) Tropical bat as mammalian model for skin carotenoid metabolism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,113(39), 10932-10937.
Villalobos-Chaves, D., Spínola-Parallada, M., Heer, K., Kalko, E. K., & Rodríguez-Herrera, B. (2017) Implications of a specialized diet for the foraging behavior of the Honduran white bat, Ectophylla alba (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae). Journal of Mammalogy, 98(4), 1193-1201.
Timm, R. M. (1982) Ectophylla alba. Mammalian Species, (166), 1-4.