Honduran white bat

Ectophylla alba

The Honduran white bat , also called the Caribbean white tent-making bat, is a species of bat in the family Phyllostomatidae.
It has distinctive white fur, which is only found in six of the roughly 1,300 known species of bat.
The only member of the genus ''Ectophylla'', it is found in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and western Panama at elevations from sea level to 700 m . It is frugivorous.
A group of Honduran White Bats (Ectophylla alba) at Selva Verde, Sarapiquí, Costa Rica. Living by day beneath a folded over Heliconia leaf, a group of Honduran White Bats, Ectophylla alba, were photographed at Selva Verde, Sarapiquí, Costa Rica, August 2014.

 CHIROPTERA,Ectophylla alba,Honduran White Bat,Honduran white bat,IUCN near threatened,PHYLLOSTOMIDAE


Like its name suggests, it has bright white fur.
The tips of individual hairs are gray, with the grayish coloration more pronounced towards its posterior.
This species, along with four ''Diclidurus'' species and the ghost bat , is among the only currently known species of bat where the pelage is all white.
Its large nose-leaf easily distinguishes it from the northern ghost bat , however, which is the only white bat with which it is sympatric.
Its wing membranes are black.
Its ears, tragi, nose-leaf, and lips are a bright, yellowish orange.
Its yellow-orange pigmentation is due to large concentrations of carotenoids, particularly xanthophyll.
It is the first mammal known to have enough carotenoids in its skin to generate conspicuous color.

It is a small species, with a head and body length of 37–47 mm , a forearm length of 27.8–29.3 mm , and an ear length of 10–15 mm .
Individuals weigh only 5–6 g .
The bat's nose-leaf is erect, its tail is absent, and its ears large and rounded.
The inner margin of the tragus is convex, while the outer margin is coarsely serrated with four or five small lobes.
The nose-leaf also has a serrated margin.
It has eight to ten small "warts" under its mouth.
Its dental formula is, for a total of 28 teeth.
Its skull is similar in appearance to other species in its subfamily, with the exception of its very deep basioccipital pits.
The bat overall resembles a small, white ''Platyrrhinus''.


Despite being a conspicuously-colored bat, over sixty years passed between the discovery of a specimen in 1898 and the next discovery in 1963.
It is currently evaluated as near-threatened by the IUCN.
It meets the criteria for this designation because its population is in a "significant decline."
The decline does not exceed 30%, which would qualify it for vulnerable designation.
However, it is on the verge of qualifying for the vulnerable designation.
Reasons for its population decline include conversion of its habitat to farmland as well as an expanding human population.
It is particularly susceptible to habitat loss because it is highly specialized on a single species of fig for its food source.


The holotype was collected near the Coco River in Honduras.
It is found in several countries in Central America, including Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.
Unusually, it is one of four species of leaf-nosed bat endemic to Central America; most are found in South America.
Its range encompasses a range of elevations from 0–700 m above sea level.
It prefers wet evergreen forests and secondary forests, which can accommodate its specific roosting and dietary requirements.


Little is known about its reproductive behaviors.
It has been proposed that individuals give birth in April and September, and that estrus occurs post-parturition.
Pregnant females have been documented in February, March, June, July, and August in Costa Rica, with lactating females documented in March and April.
Females have synchronized births, with all births in a colony occurring within the same week.
Litter size is one offspring, called a pup.
During lactation, mothers will return to their roosts up to six times a night to feed their pups.
Pups fledge, or become capable of flight, at 3-4 weeks old.


It is frugivorous.
Along with the little white-shouldered bat, the Honduran white bat is one of the two smallest species of frugivorous bat in the world.
It specializes on a species of fig, ''Ficus colubrinae''.
However, other species of figs are occasionally consumed, such as ''Ficus schippii''.
The Honduran white bat prefers ''F. colubrinae'' trees that are "high-quality," or produce many fruits at once.
It also chooses fig trees that are the closest to its day roosts.
''F. colubrinae'' trees have asynchronous fruit production, so its fruits are available as a food source year-round.
Because it is highly specialized on the one species of fig, it has larger foraging movements than observed in frugivorous bats that are less specialized.
Individuals have an average home range of 63.2 ha .
It is unclear how it manages to survive on such a narrow diet, as it is predicted it should have to consume supplemental food sources.


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Status: Near threatened
SpeciesE. alba
Photographed in
Costa Rica