- Scientific Name
- Vampyrum spectrum
- Global Conservation Status (IUCN)
- Near Threatened
- vam-pye-rum spek-trum
Found in tropical forests from southern Mexico through north and western South America, the Spectral Bat is the largest bat species in the western hemisphere and the largest carnivorous bat species in the world. Also called the Greater False Vampire Bat, the Spectral Bat has a wingspan of almost 1 meter.
Unlike other bat species, the Spectral Bat is thought to form monogamous pairs, with both parents assisting in raising young. They roost in small groups (thought to possibly be family groups) usually in hollow trees, though there have been some observations of Spectral Bats roosting in caves or old ruins. Spectral Bats are primarily carnivorous, feeding on birds, rodents, and even other bat species. Common prey animals include birds such as motmots, doves, trogons, cuckoos, wrens, and orioles. They also appear to be attracted to the distress calls of smaller bats, and have been observed eating bats out of researchers’ mist nets. Though they most likely rely on echolocation for navigation and hunting, it is also hypothesized that they locate bird prey using smell.
Like most apex predators, Spectral Bat populations tend to be small, and there is still a lot unknown about this species’ roosting and habitat preferences.