Megadermatidae – False-vampires

Despite their names they do not go anywhere near blood for their diet

Often referred to as the false vampire bats due to historical misconceptions, it comprises a group of bats that are fascinating both in their physical appearance and ecological roles. This family includes six genera, each with species that exhibit distinctive morphological features, including leafy projections on their noses and large, leaf-like ears.

Found across the tropics and subtropics of the Old World, including Central Africa, South Asia, the Malay region, the Philippines, and Australia, Megadermatidae bats occupy a variety of ecological niches. Their distribution across such diverse geographical regions underscores the adaptability of these bats to different environmental conditions, from dense rainforests to arid savannas.

Contrary to the ‘vampire’ moniker, no species within the Megadermatidae family feed on blood. Instead, their diet consists of small insects and various small vertebrates, such as fish, frogs, and sometimes small mammals or birds. This varied diet highlights the ecological importance of Megadermatidae bats in controlling pest populations and maintaining the balance within their ecosystems. Their ability to consume a wide range of prey also indicates their role as apex nocturnal predators in some of their habitats.

Interestingly, while most Megadermatidae bats are exclusively nocturnal, the yellow-winged bat (Lavia frons) exhibits unusual behavior by being sometimes active during the day. This diurnal activity is relatively rare among bats and may suggest unique adaptations that allow the yellow-winged bat to exploit daytime food resources or avoid nocturnal predators.

The conservation of Megadermatidae bats is crucial, not only for the preservation of biodiversity but also for the ecological services they provide, such as pest control and maintaining the health of ecosystems. However, like many bat species worldwide, they face threats from habitat loss, climate change, and human disturbances.