- Scientific Name
- Molossus molossus
- Global Conservation Status (IUCN)
- Least Concern
These fast-flying bats forage on insects that they capture in the air. Velvety Free-tailed Bats in Jamaica were recorded feeding on beetles, flies, moths, and ants.
Fun Fact: The genus of the Velvety Free-tailed Bat (Molossus) is also the title of the main theme song for the movie “Batman Begins.” The rest of the soundtrack also features songs named after other groups of bats!
Appearance: Velvety Free-tailed Bats are medium-sized bats, weighing around 18 grams. They have long narrow wings which help them fly fast through open habitats.
Habitat: Also called Pallas’ Mastiff Bat, these bats are found in subtropical forests and fields throughout Central and South America. They also occur in the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico. They are sometimes called House Bats because they are frequently found roosting in houses in urban areas.
Velvety Free-tailed Bats form relatively small groups of usually less than 25 individuals. They forage in groups, eavesdropping on the echolocation calls of other bats to help them locate areas with high insect availability.
Echolocation: When searching for insects in flight, Velvety Free-tailed Bats use what is known as “frequency hopping” producing echolocation calls in pairs. The first echolocation call in the pair is always slightly lower in frequency than the second call. It is thought this behavior is an adaption to increase their chances of detecting prey while hunting.
Conservation Concerns: Widespread and readily adapted to urban environments, there are few conservation concerns for this species. There is some evidence that Velvety Free-tailed Bats are affected by wind turbines in South America. Though they made up a small percent of mortality in some studies, further study is needed.