More Bats from Cocobolo

During our two-week stay in Panama’s Cocobolo Nature Reserve, we recorded more than 600 bats of 53 species, more than half the total number known for the entire country. Additional species were netted nearly every night, including two on our final evening. Over our two-weeks of workshops, common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) and greater fishing bats (Noctilio leporinus) were participant favorites, though an incredible variety of fruit-, nectar-, and insect-eating species were seen. The hardiest of our group members often worked till dawn, bringing in a steady stream of species for portrait photos, especially during the first week. By the second week much more time was devoted to training bats to come on call, especially to locations where Merlin could photograph natural behavior, such as catching katydids.

Merlin Tuttle training a hairy big-eared bat (Micronycteris hirsuta) to come on call to a leaf to catch katydids (its natural prey) in front of bright video lights needed for high speed video shooting.

Our hairy big-eared bat hunting katydids at designated locations in front of camera and lights.

Participants learned capture, handling, photographic and conservation techniques. However, learning to train bats was especially exciting. Most bats learned to come on call for mealworm rewards in less than 30 minutes, one in just 15.

Derek Conrad calling our trained hairy big-eared bat to his hand for a mealworm reward. We do not advocate keeping bats as pets. Only properly trained and vaccinated professionals should attempt these activities.
Sharon Mammoser-Goldston calling the hairy big-eared bat to get another mealworm.
Visiting bat biologist, Rachel Page from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, calling a trained Niceforo’s big-eared bat (Trinycteris nicefori) for a mealworm treat.

During week two, we found several more interesting day roosts, including colonies of Spix’s disc-winged bats (Thyroptera tricolor) in unfurling Heliconia leaves, common tent-making bats (Uroderma bilobatum) in leaf-tent roosts, and white-throated round-eared bats (Lophostoma silvicolum) in termite roosts.

 

These disc-winged bats are emerging from their roost, relying on adhesive discs on their wrists and ankles to cling to the slick surface. We were able to carefully bring them and their day roost back to the photography studio, below they are returning to their roost.

Common tent-making bats (Uroderma bilobatum) were closely observed in a variety of large leaves they cut to form “tents.”

White-throated round-eared bats roosting in a cavity they had cut into a termite nest.
A quick peek inside revealed three occupants.

Bats were just about everywhere. There were even some residents at the base camp; greater white-lined bats (Saccoperyx bilineata) in the shower stalls and common big-eared bats (Micronycteris microtis) in the toolshed.

 

Four greater white-lined bats roosted in our shower stalls, moving among those unoccupied by humans.

 

A nursery colony of common big-eared bats roosted in the tool shed beneath our main meeting area.

 

Check out some of the additional species portraits from our second week of field work.

A Thomas’ nectar bat (Lonchophilla thomasi). This is one of six species of nectar bats we netted in front of flowering banana plants in the field station yard. Bananas originated in SE Asia, where the wild ancestors of commercial bananas remain highly dependent on bats for pollination. When bananas were introduced to the New World, bats quickly found them and still love to visit their flowers.
A Toltec fruit-eating bat (Artibeus toltecus). A tiny wing punch was taken from this bat in order to genetically confirm identity later.
An intermediate fruit-eating bat (Artibeus intermedius).
A Greenhall’s dog-faced bat (Cynomops greenhalli). These, and Bonda mastiff bats, belong to the free-tailed bat family and are fast flyers that feed high above the forest. They are seldom captured except when they come down to drink.
A lesser doglike bat (Peropteryx macrotis). This is a widely distributed but seldom seen New World member of the sac-winged bat family.
A very fat, apparently alpha male Bonda mastiff bat (Molossus bondae).
A Chiriqui brown bat (Eptesicus chiriquins). This one was a first for Merlin.
A Macconnell’s bat (Mesophylla macconnelli). These tiny fruit-eating bats are seldom seen and little is known about them. They closely resemble northern little yellow-eared bats, but lack the distinct face stripes of the latter.
A northern little yellow-eared bat (Vampyressa thyone). Surprisingly, the ears of this yellow-eared bat were less yellow than those of the Macconnell’s bat, despite their yellow-eared name.

Final count: 53 species from over 600 bats processed in two weeks

  1. Artibeus glaucus
  2. Artibeus intermedius
  3. Artibeus jamaicensis
  4. Artibeus lituratus
  5. Artibeus phaeotis
  6. Artibeus toltecus
  7. Artibeus watsoni
  8. Carollia brevicauda
  9. Carollia castanea
  10. Carollia perspicillata
  11. Chiroderma salvini
  12. Chiroderma trinitatum
  13. Chiroderma villosum
  14. Cynomops greenhalli
  15. Desmodus rotundus
  16. Eptesicus brasiliensis
  17. Eptesicus chiriquinus
  18. Eumops auripendulus
  19. Glossophaga commissarisi
  20. Glossophaga soricina
  21. Hylonycteris underwoodi
  22. Lasiurus ega
  23. Lichonycteris obscura
  24. Lonchophylla robusta
  25. Lonchophylla thomasi
  26. Lophostoma silvicolum
  27. Mesophylla macconnelli
  28. Micronycteris hirsuta
  29. Micronycteris microtis
  30. Mimon crenulatum
  31. Molossus bondae
  32. Molossus molossus
  33. Myotis albescens
  34. Myotis riparius
  35. Noctilio albiventris
  36. Noctilio leporinus
  37. Peropteryx kappleri
  38. Peropteryx macrotis
  39. Phyllostomus discolour
  40. Phyllostomus hastatus
  41. Platyrrhinus helleri
  42. Pteronotus parnellii
  43. Rhogeessa tumida
  44. Rhynchonycteris naso
  45. Saccopteryx bilineata
  46. Saccopteryx leptura
  47. Sturnira lilium
  48. Thyroptera tricolor
  49. Tonatia saurophila
  50. Trinycteris nicefori
  51. Uroderma bilobatum
  52. Vampyressa thyone
  53. Vampyrodes caraccioli

One thought on “More Bats from Cocobolo

  1. Awesome article! Was fun to be part of such a great group of researchers! It was inspiring to meet so many dedicated bat lovers. …we missed you, Paula!

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