22 Different Types of Bats in Costa Rica

Different Types of Bats in Costa Rica
Photo by Rodrigo Curi

Bats are the most common mammals you’ll find in Costa Rica. The different types of bats in Costa Rica differ in size and color.

During the day, you’ll find them sleeping on a tree or curled up in a banana palm.

While most bats eat insects, some consume fruit or drink nectar from flowers that bloom at night. However, some species feed on frogs, fish, and small vertebrates.

Most bat species have an odd appearance, but these creatures are harmless and economically and ecologically beneficial. Now let’s look at the various species present in Costa Rica.

1. Common Vampire Bat

The little, leaf-nosed common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) is a species native to Latin America.

It is one of the three species of vampire bats that are still alive, together with the hairy-legged and white-winged varieties.

This bat practices hematophagy and consumes the blood of animals. The bat approaches its target at night when they are sleeping.

Afterward, it tears open its hosts’ skin with its razor-sharp fangs and slurps its blood with its long tongue.

Common vampire bats are carnivorous and prey largely on mammalian blood, especially that of animals like cows and horses.

They eat wild prey like tapirs but appear to like domesticated animals and, given a chance, favor horses over cattle.

2. Mexican Free-Tailed Bat

One of the most popular animals in North America is the Mexican free-tailed bat, sometimes known as the Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis).

They’re also among the types of bats in Costa Rica. These bats are carnivores (insectivores).

They eat ants, wasps, dragonflies, flies, bugs, moths, beetles, and dragonflies. Mexican free-tailed bats are social creatures that reside in huge colonies.

Being nocturnal foragers, they feed after sunset and use echolocation to navigate and find prey.

Mexican free-tailed bats migrate widely; during the winter, most of the population goes to Mexico and Central America.

While some bat populations do not migrate, they are locals and may change their roosting locations seasonally.

3. Honduran White Bat

The Honduran white bat (Ectophylla alba), also known as the Caribbean white tent-making bat, is a type of bat in the Phyllostomatidae family.

These bats have a unique, all-white fur present in only six of the estimated 1,300 known bat species.

The Honduran white bat is a nocturnal creature. They use their teeth to carefully cut leaf ribs to form “tents” out of the leaves of understory plants, where they spend the daytime roosting.

In addition, these bats are herbivores (frugivores). Although they can also eat other fruits, figs are almost their only food source.

Honduran white bats are usually silent and communicate with one another visually and physically.

4. Big Brown Bat

This is also among the different types of bats in Costa Rica. The big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) is a vesper bat species that may be found all over North America, the Caribbean, and the northern part of South America. 

Big brown bats are nocturnal and spend the day roosting in safe places.

They roost in many structures, including mines, caves, tunnels, houses, bat boxes, tree holes, storm drains, rock crevices, and woodpiles.

Most times, big brown bats use echolocation for navigation. They do this by calling into the environment and then listening for the echoes of that call that come back from various objects nearby.

They can use echolocation to determine an object’s size, form, density, and distance from them as well as the direction (if any) that it is traveling in.

Furthermore, big brown bats are carnivores (insectivores). They feed on various insects, such as cockroaches, beetles, scorpionflies, net-winged insects, flies, stoneflies, mayflies, and true bugs.

Big brown bats begin hibernating in November, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from their summer roosts.

They often hibernate alone or in small groups and emerge from their hibernation in the spring.

5. Spectral Bat

Spectral bat (Vampyrum spectrum) is also among the types of bat in Costa Rica.

It is a large, carnivorous, leaf-nosed bat in Mexico, South America, and Central America. Due to their nocturnal habits, spectral bats leave their roosts at dusk to search for food.

They fly close to the ground and use echolocation to navigate by producing brief ultrasound pulses at relatively low frequencies.

Spectral bats are carnivorous animals that devour other types of bats, birds, and rodents. These bats also feed on insects such as beetles.

6. White-Winged Vampire Bat

There is just one vampire bat species in the genus Diaemus, the white-winged vampire bat (Diaemus young).

They’re also among the different types of bats in Costa Rica. These bats have diverse roosting and foraging habitat needs.

Although they often visit urban areas and rural gardens, they prefer damp, open spaces and will even graze in dry deciduous, or evergreen forests.

They spend the night in both caves and tree chambers. White-winged vampire bats only go hunting when it is completely dark.

Once they’ve found a host, they approach it slowly from the bottom of a limb or tree until they are close enough to draw blood.

The feeding period lasts between 15 and 20 minutes. White-winged vampire bats are carnivores that consume the blood of birds but will also drink the blood of animals like goats and cattle.

7. Hairy-Legged Vampire Bats

Among the different types of bats in Costa Rica is the hairy-legged vampire bat ( Diphylla ecaudata).

They live in forests and are also present in open spaces. Their preferable roosting areas include mines, caves, and hollow trees.

In addition, these bats are nocturnal and spend the day roosting in sheltered areas. They are sanguivorous, feeding on the blood of cattle, birds, mammals, and humans.

Although these vampire bats often roost alone, spotting them in groups of 12 or fewer is possible.

Nonetheless, there have also been reports of gatherings of up to 50 individuals. They often cohabit in roosts with other leaf-nosed bats and common vampire bats.

8. Greater Bulldog Bat

The greater bulldog bat (Noctilio leporinus ), also known as the fisherman bat, is a fishing bat indigenous to Latin America.

Tropical lowlands are the main habitat of this bat. The bats are seen over ponds, streams, estuaries, and coastal lagoons.

In Trinidad, these bats rest in hollow trees like balata, red mangroves, and silk cotton.

In other locations, the bats also inhabit hollow tree roosts. Bulldog bats are nocturnal, just like most bats.

The greater bulldog bat is one of the few bat species that has evolved to eat fish. Nonetheless, bats consume both fish and insects.

During the wet season, moths and beetles are the main insects that these bats eat.

To a lesser extent, the bat eats fish during the dry season, along with crabs, scorpions, and shrimp.

9. Northern Ghost Bat

This is also among the different types of bats in Costa Rica. The northern ghost bat (Diclidurus albus) is a South American, Trinidadian, and Central American bat species.

It is a fully white, insectivorous bat that is uncommon and has a unique pouch at the end of its tail.

Tropical and coastal woods are home to northern ghost bats, who sleep in the open caves or in palm trees.

Individual bats usually take up residence closest to the rachis (stem) of the palm frond when roosting in palm trees.

Also, these bats are insectivores that mainly feed on moths. It flies straight upwards in open areas at a great height when feeding.

It is known to sing while eating in Costa Rica. The noises it makes while singing is regarded to be particular to the genus.

10. Big-eared Woolly Bat

The big-eared woolly bat (Chrotopterus auritus), sometimes known as the woolly false vampire bat, is a species of bat that belongs to the Order Chiroptera and Family Phyllostomidae.

It’s also among the different types of bats in Costa Rica. This bat species reside in warm subtropical forests and roosts in hollow logs and caves, returning its food before eating it.

The great size of big-eared woolly bats contributes to their slow flight, which usually occurs in dense thickets and at the height of 1 or 2 meters.

In addition, the dietary habits of big-eared woolly bats vary. It has been shown that its main food sources include small arthropods and vertebrates, such as fruits, beetles, moths, small mammals (such as opossums and rodents), birds (such as passerine birds), and even other bat species.

It is an insectivorous or carnivorous animal, but it has also been observed eating fruit. But when kept in captivity, they rejected fruit in favor of meat or insects.

11. Greater Spear-Nosed Bat

The greater spear-nosed bat (Phyllostomus hastatus) is a species of bat native to South and Central America and belongs to the Phyllostomidae family. It’s also among the different types of bats in Costa Rica on this list.

Although these bats are most commonly found near streams and other bodies of water, you can also find them in drier areas. They live in both open and forested areas.

This bat spends nights in caves, tree hollows, termite mounds, and thatched roofs. It inhabits groups of 10 to one hundred individuals.

One dominant male rules over a group of up to thirty females; however, there may be multiple subgroups within this group. Being omnivorous, it often feeds on fruit, pollen, and insects.

Furthermore, this bat has a keen sense of smell. When foraging for food, it can find hidden banana pieces among the leaf litter on the forest floor.

12. Seba’s Short-Tailed Bat

One of the different types of bats in Costa Rica is the seba’s short-tailed bat (Carollia perspicillata).

You can find them near stagnant waters and areas below elevations of 1000 meters.

Because of its foraging habits, this bat is one of the most frequent ones caught at ground level.

This bat is known for consuming a wide range of fruits, with a preference for those belonging to the Piperaceae family (genus Piper), as well as insects, nectar, and pollen.

Furthermore, these bats will roost in groups of 10 to 100 in tunnels, hollow trees, and caves. They usually spend the day roosting and the night foraging.

These bats have two different kinds of roosts: bachelor and harem roosts.

A single male, a few females, and their offspring comprise a harem roost. Males without harems use bachelor roosts, and sometimes, women join them.

Compared to other insectivorous bats, this bat has a better sense of smell, better vision, and a less specialized auditory system.

However, their main method of orientation remains echolocation.

13. Desert Red Bat

The desert red bat (Lasiurus frantzii) is also among the different types of bats in Costa Rica.

Although their common name suggests they live in the desert, desert red bats hibernate in woods, under leaves.

Their coat color also helps in their ability to blend in with dead foliage. Red bat migration patterns differ between males and females.

In June, warmer climates are often where you may find female bats. In addition, these bats are insectivores.

They eat beetles, cicadas, bees, flies, moths, and bugs. To find insects, they use animal echolocation.

While hunting, they are prone to predators such as owls, blue jays, raccoons, and opossums.

14. Northern Yellow Bat

The northern yellow bat (Dasypterus intermedius ) is among the types of bats in Costa Rica. You can find this species at dusk, foraging over golf courses or around street lamps.

These bats prefer to forage in areas 5-7 meters (17-23 feet) above the ground, in grassy areas, and around forest edges. These areas have few shrubs and scattered clumps of trees.

Their primary food sources are true bugs, such as flies, beetles, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, flying ants, and on rare occasions, damselflies and dragonflies.

15. Fringe-Lipped Bat

The fringe-lipped bat (Trachops cirrhosus) is a leaf-nosed bat from southern Mexico through Bolivia and south Brazil.

It’s also among the different types of bats in Costa Rica. This bat gets its name from wart-like bumps on its muzzle and lips. The bat’s belly is gray, with a reddish brown overall.

Its ideal habitat is close to streams or ponds. Also, it sometimes roosts in caves, hollow logs, or trees. It prefers tropical moist, and dry woodlands.

Furthermore, a fringe-lipped bat is an opportunistic omnivore that feeds primarily on insects with a small number of lizards, frogs, fruits, and seeds.

It has been discovered that this species consumes bats like Furipterus horrens. Other bat species may occasionally roost beside it. These bats roost together in groups that can have up to 50 individuals.

To hunt frogs, they leave their roosts early in the morning when there is still light outside.

They stalk prey either from perches or in constant flight. They hunt by echolocating and following the sounds of insects and frogs.

16. Proboscis Bat

The probosci’s bat (Rhynchonycteris naso) is a South and Central American bat species, which is why it’s on our list of types of bats in Costa Rica.

Its common names are sharp-nosed bat, long-nosed probosci’s bat, Brazilian long-nosed bat, river bat in English, and murciélago narizón in Spanish.

The forearms of this bat have gray fur tufts. This feature may make it hard to see the bat at any time of day.

It inhabits wetlands and can be found in riparian woods, pastures, marshes, and other areas close to water.

Proboscis bats live in colonies. The colonies seldom have more than forty members and often have five to 10.

The bats are nocturnal and sleep in an odd arrangement during the day: they line up one after the other, nose to tail, on a branch or wooden beam.

17. Greater Sac-Winged Bat

Greater sac-winged bats (Saccopteryx bilineata) are native to Central and South America and belong to the Emballonuridae family.

They are the most common bats in the rainforest because they often roost on the outsides of large trees.

These mammals are among the types of bats in Costa Rica. They are the most frequent bats seen in the jungle.

Being insectivores, they employ echolocation noises made with their mouth to locate their meal.

The upper lip and long nose are quite flexible and can move upward to widen the mouth opening.

Sac-winged pups have been heard vocalizing a variety of calls and noises chaotically.

A female pup, for instance, will give a male a trill to indicate courtship, followed by echolocation clicks and adult territorial threats.

These disorganized vocalizations have been compared to immature birds’ songs and the babbling of human infants.

18. Southern Yellow Bat

The southern yellow bat (Dasypterus ega) is a species of vesper bat that is a member of the Vespertilionidae family and suborder microchiroptera (microbat).

They’re also among the different types of bats in Costa Rica. In addition, they live in wooded areas with trees, plants, and palms.

They occasionally inhabit other locations that have large dead-leaf-like structures, like dried corn stalks and thatched roofs.

This bat roosts in vegetation and trees. Also, they’re nocturnal insectivores. They hunt small to medium-sized flying insects for one to two hours after sunset.

They enjoy eating near where they roost and only travel a short distance for water.

19. Lesser Bulldog Bat

The lesser bulldog bat (Noctilio albiventris), found across Central America and northern South America, is insectivorous and carnivorous. It’s also among the types of bats in Costa Rica.

The bat has large feet that are used to sweep the water’s surface to capture prey and precise echolocation.

Lesser bulldog bats prefer terrestrial habitats and dwell in hollow trees or human-made buildings near bodies of water or other wet areas.

The species eat mostly insects, catching them as they fly over water. According to population studies in Costa Rica, these bats also eat tree pollen.

20. Pale Spear-Nosed Bat

The pale spear-nosed bat (Phyllostomus discolor) is among the types of bats in Costa Rica. It lives in agricultural and lowland forests at altitudes of up to 610 meters (2,000 ft).

Pale spear-nosed bats are nocturnal and spend the day sleeping at cave entrances or within hollow trees. They can dwell in colonies with up to 400 people.

In addition, they are omnivorous, and nectar, pollen, and flowers make up a sizable amount of their diet.

Also, they are reportedly significant pollinators when they visit flowers, particularly saori trees.

Although most research concludes that they mostly consume nectar and other plant matter, insects may represent a more substantial dietary source in some regions of their range.

In rare situations, they may consume nectar during the dry season and change to eating insects during the wet season, including beetles, bugs, flies, and moths.

21. Geoffroy’s Tailless Bat

Anoura geoffroyi is a phyllostomid bat species native to the tropics of North America.

As you can tell from its name, this bat has no tail. You’ll find this mammal among the different types of bats in Costa Rica.

The bat lives in wooded areas between 400 and 2,500 m (1,300 and 8,200 ft) above sea level.

These areas include cloud forests, pine and oak forests, cerrado, and agricultural land. Up to 90% of the bat’s diet consists of moths and beetles, making it an insectivore.

They also consume some fruit and pollen from various flowers, and in some areas of their range, it has even been claimed that they only feed on nectar.

Furthermore, they are nocturnal and spend the day sleeping in caves near bodies of water, either by themselves or in colonies of up to 300 people; however, colonies of 20 to 75 people are the most common.

The species can hover and fly quickly. It navigates using echolocation and vision, and its hearing is most sensitive between 65 and 75 kHz.

Because it feeds on the same insects as other local bat species, it avoids rivalries by feeding at different altitudes not preferred by other bats.

22. Argentine Brown Bat

The Argentine brown bat (Eptesicus furinalis) is among the types of bats in Costa Rica.

These bats are found in highland areas, usually above 3,300 feet (1,000 m). They are present in grasslands and wooded areas but never in arid regions.

They prefer the higher levels of moisture found in forests near rivers and lakes.

These bats nest in rock crevices and the bark of trees. Also, Argentine brown bats are insectivores.

However, the season of the year—whether it’s wet or dry—will have a slight impact on their diet.

The Argentine brown bat uses echolocation to find food near streams and other small bodies of water. They eat different kinds of moths, some beetles, and butterflies.


That’s all about the types of bats in Costa Rica. These creatures come in different sizes and are good pollinators and seed dispersed.

They’re all harmless except for vampire bats, which cause serious damage to livestock.

However, you can relax as conservation officials and ranchers are doing an excellent job of controlling them. Thanks for reading!

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