Endangered Bat Species And Extinct Bats – Humanity’s Impact

There are many reasons that bats have become endangered.

In many countires (such as Europe and the USA) the microchiroptera, being at the end of the entomological food chain, suffered horribly as a result of mankind’s chemical war with the insects.

Many populations crashed during the 1960s, when use of DDT and other poisons became common. In some cases they have shown some small increase since the worst times. Scientific research has shown that bats are more sensitive to DDT than either birds or other mammals.

The Mexican Free-tailed Bat, Tadarida brasiliensis, supplies a prime example a species we have good information on. In 1937 the estimated mid-summer population of these bats in Carlsbad Carvern in New Mexico was 8.7 million, but by 1979 the estimated population was down to 218 thousand – or a mere 2.5 percent of what it was.

Also, in a study of the bats of Eagle Creek Cave in Arizona during the 1960s, the mid-summer population was seen to crash from 25 million to only 30 thousand – which is only 0.12 percent of the original.

The use of chlorinated hydrocarbons to protect wood from bats in both Europe and the USA has also had a detrimental effect on bat populations. In the USA these pesticides were also used to specifically expel bats from roosts in houses.

According to the Encyclopedia of Mammals as edited by David Macdonald “In the United States fear of bats has been deliberately generated by the multi-million dollar pest control industry to attract business for the destruction of bats in buildings.” As with all ecological problems the two spines of the devil’s fork, ignorance and greed are largely to blame.

In more recent times, thanks to a lot of good work by a variety of conservationists and environmentalists, the use of such poisons has greatly declined – with synthetic pyrethroids and other similar chemicals taking their place. These chemicals are far less toxic to mammals.

Poisons and persecution are of course not the only problem for endangered bats.

Habitat destruction, especially the felling of mixed species woodlands, also has a highly negative effect on bat populations – as it does on many other animals.

Further problems are caused by introduced species. In New Zealand the decline and eventual extinction of Mystacina robusta followed the spread of the introduced Polynesian Rat (Rattus exulans) and then the equally introduced Black Rat (Rattus rattus).

Other examples of damage done by introduced species include regular numbers of bats in the genus Chalinolobus being killed by cats in New Zealand and Australia and juvenile Pteropus mariannus being eaten by the introduced tree-snake Boiga irregularis on Guam.

In all European countries, bats are now protected by law. In England they are well protected by the law.

For instance, among other things it is illegal to:

Intentionally kill, injure or capture a bat; Possess or control a live or dead bat, any part of a bat, or anything derived from a bat; Intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place that a bat uses for shelter or protection.

The laws in Wales and Scotland are pretty much the same. The penalty for breaking these laws is £5,000 per bat. You even need a license to photograph bats in the UK. See UK Bat Law.  Unfortunately bats in other parts of the world are not so well protected.

Although two entire genera, Pteropus and Acerodon, are listed on Apendices 1 and 2 of CITES.

Extinct Bats

Nevertheless at least 12 species of bats have gone extinct in recent times.

Scientific NameCommon NameDate of ExtinctionAuthority (1)Location
Acerodon luciferPanay Giant Fruit Back1892Elliot, 1896Panay Island, Philippines
Dobsonia chapmaniPhilippine Bare-backed Fruit Bat1970Rabor, 1952Cebu and Negros Islands, Philippines
Mystacina robustaNew Zealand Greater Short-tailed Bat1960sDwyer, 1962Big South Cape Island, New Zealand
Nyctophilus howensisLord Howe Long-eared Batbefore 1500McKean, 1975Australia and New Caledonia
Nyctimene sanctacrucisNendo Tube-nosed Bat1907Troughton, 1931Solomon and Santa Cruz Islands
Phyllonycteris majorPuerto Rican Flower Batbefore 1500Anthony, 1917Puerto Rico
Pipistrellus sturdeeiSturdee’s Pipistrelleafter 1915Thomas, 1915Bonin Islands
Pteropus brunneusDusky Flying Foxafter 1874Dobson, 1878Percy Island, Australia
Pteropus loochoensisOkinawa Flying FoxNo DataGray, 1870Ryukyu Island, Japan
Pteropus pilosusLarge Palau Flying Foxbefore 1874K. Andersen, 1908Palau
Pteropus subnigerDark Flying Fox1860s(Kerr, 1792)Mauritius and Reunion Islands
Pteropus tokudaeGuam Flying Fox1968Tate, 1934Guam

1 = The ‘Authority’ of a species is the name of the person who first described the species for science. The following date is the date of the description (if it is all in brackets it means the species has since been moved to a different genus)

Only three specimens of Pteropus tokudae were ever collected, the last being shot by hunters in 1968. Despite intensive field work on the island’s fruit bats, no observations of the Guam Fruit Bat have been recorded since this time.

Below are two lists of both endangered and critically endangered bat species, both from the IUCN 2003 list. Don’t forget to check out the latest IUCN SSC Bat Specialist Group for the latest data for 2020.

Endangered Bats

Scientific NameCommon Name
Acerodon jubatusGolden Capped Fruit Bat
Balantiopteryx infuscaEcuadorian Sac-winged Bat
Chalinolobus neocaledonicus
Chiroderma improvisumGuadeloupe Big-eyed Bat
Craseonycteris thonglongyaiKitti’s Hog-nosed Bat
Dobsonia beaufortiBeaufort’s Naked-backed Fruit Bat
Emballonura semicaudataPacific Sheath-tailed Bat
Eptesicus guadeloupensisGuadeloupe Big Brown Bat
Glischropus javanusJavan Thick-thumbed Bat
Hesperoptenus doriaeFalse Serotine Bat
Hipposideros turpisLesser Great Leaf-nosed Bat
Laephotis namibensisNamib Long-eared Bat
Leptonycteris nivalisMexican Long-nosed Bat
Miniopterus robustiorLoyalty Bent-winged Bat
Mormopterus phrudusIncan Little Mastiff Bat
Murina griseaPeter’s Tube-nosed Bat
Murina ussuriensisUssuri Tube-nosed Bat
Myonycteris brachycephalaSao Tome* Collared Fruit Bat
Myotis findleyiFindley’s Myotis
Myotis grisescensGrey Myotis
Myotis milleriMiller’s Myotis
Myotis ozensisHonshu Myotis
Myotis pruinosusFrosted Myotis
Myotis schaubiSchaub’s Myotis
Myotis sodalisIndiana Bat
Myotis stalkeriKei Myotis
Nyctophilus heranSunda Long-eared Bat
Phyllonycteris aphyllaJamaican Flower Bat
Pipistrellus endoiEndo’s Pipistrelle
Pteropus dasymallusRyukyu Fluing Fox
Pteropus leucopterusWhite-winged Flying Fox
Pteropus mariannusMarianna Flying Fox
Rhinolophus imaizumiiImaizumi’s Horseshoe Bat
Rhinolophus keyensisInsular Horseshoe Bat
Rhogeessa alleniAllen’s Yellow Bat
Rhogeessa miraLeast Yellow Bat
Sturnira thomasiThomas’s Yellow-shouldered Bat

Critically Endangered Bats

Scientific NameCommon Name
Aproteles bulmeraeBulmer’s Fruit Bat
Chaerephon gallagheriGallagher’s Free-tailed Bat
Coleura seychellensisSeychelles Sheath-tailed Bat
Hipposideros nequamMalayan Roundleaf Bat
Latidens salimaliiSalim Ali’s Fruit Bat
Mops niangaraeNiangara Free-tailed Bat
Murina tenebrosaGloomy Tube-nosed Bat
Myotis cobanensisGuatemalan Myotis
Myotis planicepsFlat-headed Myotis
Nyctimene raboriPhilippine Tube-nosed Bat
Otomops wroughtoniWroughton’s free-tailed Bat
Paracoelops megalotisVietnam Leaf-nosed Bat
Pharotis imogeneNew Guinea Big-eared Bat
Pipistrellus anthonyiAnthony’s Pipistrelle
Pipistrellus joffreiJoffre’s Pipistrelle
Pteralopex acrodontaFijian Monkey-faced Bat
Pteralopex ancepsBougainville Monkey-faced Bat
Pteralopex atrataCusp-toothed Flying fox
Pteralopex pulchraMontane Monkey-faced Bat
Pteropus insularisChuuk Flying Fox
Pteropus livingstoniiComoro Black Flying Fox
Pteropus molossinusCaroline Flying Fox
Pteropus phaeocephalusMortlock Flying Fox
Pteropus pselaphonBonnin Flying Fox
Pteropus rodricensisRodrigues Flying Fox
Pteropus voeltzkowiPemba Flying Fox
Rhinolophus convexusBat
Scotophilus borbonicusLesser Yellow Bat
Taphozous troughtoniBat
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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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