The rhinopomatids are called mouse-tailed or long-tailed bats after their long free tail. They are the only microchiropteran bats with tails nearly as long as their head and body. The tail membrane is reduced and does not enclose the tail. These bats are small to medium-sized (head and body length of 5.0 to 9.0 cm). They are typically grey-brown to dark brown on their backs, but they may be paler on their bellies.
Long-tailed bats have large, simple, cup-shaped ears joined at the base by a fleshy band across the forehead. There is a small tragus (fleshy ear outgrowth). There is also a fleshy ridge over the slit-like nostrils, but no noseleaf. The slit nostrils can be closed to exclude sand and dust. The sides of the muzzle are swollen, and this can be seen on the skull as well as in live specimens. The palatal branch of the premaxillary is reduced and fused in the midline below the nasal opening. The skull lacks postorbital processes, and the auditory bullae are large. The dental formula is 1/2, 1/1, 1/2, 3/3 = 28 and the molars are dilambdodont.
These bats are primarily insectivorous. They may survive the winter, when fewer insects are available, by becoming torpid.
The family contains only 1 genus (Rhinopoma) with 3 species. This family of bats is known from North and West Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan-Afghanistan, and Thailand.
Rhinopomatids live in treeless arid regions and roost in caves, rock clefts, wells, houses, and pyramids. They are gregarious and colonial. One species (R. microphyllum) has inhabited the Egyptian pyramids for at least 3000 years.
Rhinopomatids have no fossil record. They are sometimes considered to be the most primitive living microchiropterans, because of their free premaxillae, and the structure of their wings and thorax.
mouse tailed bat
mouse tailed (artist rendition)
Family Pteropodidae (Old World fruit-eating bats)
Family Rhinopomatidae (long-tailed or mouse-tailed bats) Family Craseonycteridae (bumblebee bat) Family Emballonuridae (sac-winged or sheath-tailed bats) Family Nycteridae (slit-faced or hollow-faced bats) Family Megadermatidae (false vampire bats) Family Rhinolophidae (horseshoe bats or Old-World leaf-nosed bats) Family Noctilionidae (bull-dog or mastiff bats) Family Mormoopidae (naked-backed bats) Family Phyllostomidae (New World leaf-nosed bats) Family Natalidae (funnel-eared or long legged bats) Family Furipteridae (smoky or thumbless bats) Family Thyropteridae (disc-winged bats) Family Myzopodidae (old world sucker-footed bats) Family Vespertilionidae (evening bats) Family Mystacinidae (New Zealand short-tailed bats) Family Molossidae (free-tailed bats)
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