Noctilionidae – Bulldog bats

There are a lot of very cute bats in the world – these flying fishermen certainly aren't one of them!

Commonly referred to as bulldogs or fishing bats, they represent a unique and fascinating group of bats distinguished by their specialized hunting techniques and adaptations for an aquatic lifestyle. These bats are capable of achieving flight speeds of up to 65 km/h (40 mph), a remarkable feat that allows them to effectively patrol water surfaces in search of prey. Their method of snatching fish from the water involves skimming the surface with their feet, a skill that requires precision and agility.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Noctilionidae bats is their ability to release an oily substance that coats their wings and large tail membrane, serving as a water-repellent. This adaptation is critical for their aquatic hunting lifestyle, as it prevents their wings from becoming waterlogged and aids in maintaining buoyancy and mobility when they inadvertently come into contact with water. Moreover, these bats are proficient fliers and excellent swimmers, capable of easily maneuvering through water to capture prey or escape from predators.

Noctilionidae bats inhabit the tropical lowlands of Central and South America, where they find suitable roosting and foraging environments. Their preference for roosting near water sources, such as hollow trees or deep rock crevices, is closely tied to their dietary habits. While primarily piscivorous, feeding on fish they catch with their feet, and these bats also exhibit dietary flexibility. In times when fish are less accessible, they can forage for insects and aquatic invertebrates, showcasing their adaptability to varying environmental conditions.