Cuban fig-eating bat

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Cuban fig-eating bat
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Chiroptera
Family: Phyllostomidae
Genus: Phyllops
Peters, 1865
Species: P. falcatus
Binomial name
Phyllops falcatus
(Gray, 1839)

Phyllops haitiensis

The Cuban fig-eating bat, or white-shouldered bat, (Phyllops falcatus) is a species of bat in the family Phyllostomidae, found only in the Caribbean. It is the sole extant species in the genus Phyllops, although two other species, P. vetus and P. silvai, are known from fossils.


The Cuban fig-eating bat is a moderately sized bat with dense silky greyish-brown fur that fades to a paler colour on the underparts. There are four small patches of pure white fur on the back, one on each shoulder, and one behind each of the ears. Adults range from 5.5 to 6.5 centimetres (2.2 to 2.6 in) in head-body length with a 32 to 37 centimetres (13 to 15 in) wingspan, and weigh between 16 and 23 grams (0.56 and 0.81 oz); females are larger than males. They have a highly domed head, a short snout, rounded ears with a thick tragus, and a broad, flaring, spear-shaped nose-leaf with a pointed tip.[2]

The wings are relatively large, and bear unusually long thumbs. Most of the wing membrane is blackish in colour, but the portion between the first and second digits is transparent, and cannot be folded closed as it can in most other bats. The wings have an average aspect ratio of 6.6 and average wing loading of 10.9, suggesting that their flight is slow, but highly manoeuvrable. They have no tails, and only a short calcar supporting a narrow uropatagium.[2]


Cuban fig-eating bats are found across Cuba and neighbouring smaller islands, in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and the Cayman Islands.[1] They inhabit forested and parkland habitats from sea level to 680 metres (2,230 ft), including both evergreen and deciduous woodlands.[2] There are two recognised subspecies, which have sometimes been considered as separate species:

  • Phyllops falcatus falcatus - Cuba, Cayman Islands
  • Phyllops falcatus haitiensis - Hispaniola


Cuban fig-eating bats are nocturnal, and, despite the name, little is known of their diet, beyond a reported discovery of Cecropia seeds in their faecal pellets. They spend the day sheltering in dense foliage in groups of three to five individuals. They are known to be a major prey item for local barn owls.[2] They have no identified breeding season, and probably come into oestrus several times a year.[3] Most reports indicate that females are more common than males within defined localities, which may suggest a polygynous mating system.[2]

The echolocation calls of Cuban fig-eating bats have an unusually broad bandwidth, with the first harmonic sweeping down from 73 to 23 kHz. The calls are four or five milliseconds long, and with an average interval of 110 milliseconds between pulses.[4]


  1. ^ a b Mancina, C., Dávalos, L. & Incháustegui, S: 2008. Phyllops falcatus. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Archived June 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Downloaded on 19 February 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e Da Cunha Tavares, V.; Mancina, C.A. (2008). "Phyllops falcatus (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae)". Mammalian Species: Number 811: pp. 1–7. doi:10.1644/811.1. 
  3. ^ Mancina, C.A.; et al. (2007). "Habitat use by phyllostomid bat assemblages in secondary forests of the 'Sierra del Rosario' Biosphere Reserve, Cuba" (PDF). Acta Chiropterologica. 9 (1): 203–218. doi:10.3161/1733-5329(2007)9[203:hubpba];2. 
  4. ^ Macías, S.; et al. (2005). "Echolocation behavior of Phyllops falcatus (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae): unusual frequency range of the first harmonic" (PDF). Acta Chiropterologica. 7 (2): 275–283. doi:10.3161/1733-5329(2005)7[275:ebopfc];2.