larger of only two species of the genus Noctilio, N. leporinus
has a head and body length of 98-132mm and forearm length of
72-92mm. Weights are from 60-78 grams, with the males heavier
than the females. Coloration is gray or dull brown along the
middorsal line with paler underparts, but the upper parts of
the male are a bright orange rufous.
N. leporinus has a pointed muzzle and full lips which appear
swollen. The upper lips are smooth, divided by a vertical fold
of skin beneath the nostrils forming a hood over the mouth.
The lower lip is also smooth, with a semicircular pad at the
center and additional semicircular folds under the chin. The
cheeks are very elastic and can be greatly extended. The tubular
nose extends a bit beyond the lips, and the nostril open forward
and down. There is no nose leaf. The large, pointed ears are
separate, and a tragus with a serrated outer margin is present.
N. leporinus has a well-developed tail that is more than
half as long as the thigh bone, extending to about the middle
of the tail membrane, perforating its surface and freeing the
tip of the tail. The wings are relatively long and narrow when
compared to other species of Microchiroptera.
Preferred habitats include a variety of vegetative areas, but
always near streams or moisture. N. leporinus usually
roosts in rock clefts and fissures, dark caves and in hollow
trees as well as in buildings. An unusually strong musky odor
can indicate a roost of N. leporinus.
Feeding occurs in groups of 5-15 individuals. The bat skims
the surface of a large river or freshwater pond in a zigzag
fashion while chirping where pelicans have disturbed schools
of fish. It is believed that echolocation is used to determine
the size and velocity of the fish which is grabbed with the
large claws of N.
leporinus and quickly transferred to the bat's mouth. The
fish may be eaten in flight or taken back to a roost where the
bat eats while resting. There is a possibility that N.
leporinus transfers the
fish to its tail membrane, but it does not actually scoop the
fish out of the water with this membrane as once believed. This
species is also known to eat large insects such as flying ants,
scarab beetles and stinkbugs.
N. leporinus roosts during
the daylight in groups of 30 or so individuals. The reproductive
cycle is monestrous, and one offspring is born during the wet
season, offering the most food sources possible.
N. leporinus is found in
Sinaloa (Mexico) to the Guianas, S Brazil, N Argentina, Paraguay,
Bolivia, and Peru; Trinidad; Greater and Lesser Antilles; and