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Top 10 Biggest Bats In The World

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  • The greater lance-nosed bat is found in Central and South America and is unusual in that it feeds on birds, bats and small rodents.
  • The spectral bat is the largest bat found in the Americas. They typically have only one mate for life, with one offspring born by the female between late spring and midsummer being cared for by the male.
  • With a 5.6-foot wingspan and a whopping 2.6 pounds, the golden-crowned flying fox is the largest bat in the world.

Bats do make a lot of people feel squeamish. As a mammal that has achieved true flight, they strike some as too weird.

Their tough wings and nocturnal habits don't help that many bats are indeed vectors of terrible diseases. But bats are extremely important to the environment.

They eat pests such as mosquitoes, help pollinate flowers, and help plants disperse by dropping seeds. The largest bats in the world are fruit bats or giant bats, but not all fruit bats grow very large. Here are ten of the world's largest species.

#10. Largest Bat: Great Horseshoe Bat

largest horseshoe bat
Large horseshoe bats can be easily identified by the horseshoe-shaped flaps around their nostrils.

©Carl Allen/Shutterstock.com

This animal is the largest horseshoe bat ever found in Europe. It exists not only in Europe, but also in North Africa, Central Asia and East Asia. It is considered non-migratory because its winter and summer camps are only about 19 miles apart.

The animals are about 4.5 inches from nose to tail, with females being slightly larger than males. Their wingspan is 14 to 16 inches as judged by their nose lobes. The top of the snout is pointed, while the bottom is shaped like a horseshoe, hence the animal's name.

It has shaggy gray fur and light gray-brown wings. It is a long-lived species that can live up to 30 years. It mainly feeds on moths.

#9. Largest Bat: The Great Spear-nosed Bat

Largest Bat: The Great Spear-nosed Bat
The greater lance-nosed bats roost together in burrows or tree cavities, sometimes forming colonies of thousands of individuals.


This is the second largest species in Central and South America, with an average length of 5.23 inches for males and 4.9 inches for females.

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However, females have a larger wingspan of about 1.8 feet. The animal is notable for its nose leaf shaped like a spear.

Unusually, it eats birds, not only birds but also other bats and rodents small enough for it to handle, but also insects and fruit if the usual prey is not available.

It spends most of its day in huge colonies found in caves and abandoned buildings, and emerges when the sun goes down.

#8. Biggest Bat: The Spectral Bat

Spectrum Bat Photos
Ghost bats use an extremely advanced sense of smell to hunt prey in dark forests

© Marco Tschapka / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

With a length of up to 5.3 inches and a wingspan of more than 3 feet, this free-tailed bat is the largest in the Americas. It has fine, reddish-brown fur, large round ears and large nose lobes.

This is somewhat unusual for the bat, which mates for life, although scientists don't know when its breeding season is. They do know that females give birth to one offspring from late spring to midsummer, which is also unusual for bats because males help care for the young.

The ghost bat is also known as the great false vampire bat because it was once thought to feed on blood. While this is not the case, spectral bats are considered to be among the best hunters in the forests of Central and South America, second only to jaguars, due to their keen sense of smell.

They prey on small birds, rodents, frogs, lizards and other bats. Once they locate a victim, they swoop down and crush its skull with a powerful bite.

#7. Biggest Bat: Greater Noctule Bat

Biggest Bat: Greater Noctule Bat
The Greater Noctule Bat is one of the few bat species that feeds on passerine birds.

©Al Renard/Shutterstock.com

The animal, which measures about 6 inches from nose to tail and has an 18-inch wingspan, preys on birds and is one of the few bats that preys on animals larger than insects. Not only that, but it also preys on birds on its wings.

To do this, it uses echolocation and has unusually narrow and delicate wings. Although the wings are more susceptible to damage, they allow the animal to outwit its prey even in the dark of night. Distributed in North Africa, West Asia and Europe.

The Greater Noctule Bat is a rare carnivorous bat that is one of the largest but least studied bat species in the world. They may be large, but they fly fast and are capable of flying long distances. These animals are golden brown in color with darker faces and wings. While somewhat mysterious, these bats are one of the cuter types of bats.

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#6. Largest Bat: Lawton's Free-tailed Bat

Largest Bat: Lawton's Free-tailed Bat
Until the discovery of these two new colonies, the Lawtonian free-tailed bat was considered one of the 15 most endangered bat species.

© Kalyanvarma / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

The animal got its name because its tail was free, or not attached to its wing membrane. Although it appears to be rare, as it is only found in two places in India and one cave in Cambodia, not enough is known about this bat to give it conservation status, despite efforts to preserve it.

Lawton's free-tailed bats are about 6 inches long from head to tail, with large forward-facing ears and large nose pads on their hairless faces. The hair on the animal's head, back and rump is plush and dark brown, but the back of the neck and shoulders are silver. Scientists believe the animal feeds on insects, and both males and females have throat pouches.

#5. Largest Bat: Franquet's Epaulette Bat

Mosaic Dandelion
The term Epaulette refers to the white fur that covers the shoulders of male bats with dimpled glandular sacs.

©Joel Asaph Allen / public domain, Wikimedia Commons – License

This species is distributed in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa. It can also be found in Congo, Sudan, Angola and Zambia. On average, it has a wingspan of 2 feet and a length of 5.51 to 7.01 inches. The animals tend to live solitary or in groups, and scientists don't know their mating customs.

They assume they don't have a single breeding season, but breed year-round. It gets its name from the white patches on its shoulders, which contrast with the dark brown or orange color of most of the rest of its fur.

Franquet's epaulet bat is a frugivore, but it has an interesting way of eating. It crushes the fruit with the back of its hard palate, swallows the juice, and spits out the pulp. It also eats flowers. The conservation status of this species has received the least attention.

#4. Largest Bat: Madagascar Flying Fox

The largest bat _ Madagascar flying fox
Madagascar flying foxes don't use sonar like smaller insectivorous bats; only their eyes and ears. They see as well as cats at night and are about as smart as they are.

© GTW/Shutterstock.com

The Madagascar fox is endemic to the African island nation of Madagascar and is the largest bat in the area. It can reach a size of 9 to 10.5 inches with a wingspan of over 4 feet. It has an alert fox face, brown fur and gray or black wings. The male's head is only slightly larger than the female's, but otherwise, both sexes are identical.

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These foxes do not live in burrows, but in large trees large enough to support large groups. It hangs upside down, leathery wings wrapping around it. Flying foxes eat fruit, especially figs, and disperse the seeds over long distances as they pass through the animal's gastrointestinal tract.

It also eats flowers and leaves, and licks nectar. The Madagascar flying fox is thought to be a pollinator of the kapok tree, an ornamental plant grown for its beauty and whose flowers are used to make tea and soup.

#3. Biggest Bat: The Hammerhead

Biggest Bat: The Hammerhead
The hammer-headed bat (Hypsignathus monstrous) is named for the male with a distinctively shaped head and enlarged throat

© Sarah H. Olson, Gerard Bounga, Alain Ondzie, Trent Bushmaker, Stephanie N. Seifert, Eeva Kuisma, Dylan W. Taylor, Vincent J. Munster, Chris Walzer / CC0 1.0 – License

The creature, whose unfortunate scientific name is Hypsignathus monstrosus , was found near the waters of the forests of Central Africa. Males are longer and twice as heavy as females.

A large male weighs close to a pound and can reach a length of 11 inches, while a female can reach 8.8 inches. Its size makes the hammerhead the largest bat on the African continent.

It's the males that give this species the hammerhead nickname because they have a massive throat and enlarged structures on their heads that help them vocalize. They include oversized lips and warts, a protruding nose, thick cheek pouches and a split jaw.

Indeed, it is one of the ugliest animals in the world. The female looks more like a typical flying fox. Male hammerhead bats are very loud and are considered a pest in some places. However, its state of conservation is of least concern.

#2. Biggest Bat: Great Flying Fox

Biggest Bat: Great Flying Fox
The Great Flying Fox has the longest forearm length and wingspan of any bat reported.

© iStock.com/tane-mahuta

The big flying fox is distributed in New Guinea and the Bismarck Islands, so its alias is the Bismarck flying fox. Male bats are 10.5 to 13.0 inches long and females 9.2 to 11.0 inches long, making them the largest bats found in Melanesia.

It's also one of the heaviest offerings, weighing in at 3.5 pounds. Like most other flying foxes, it eats fruit, especially figs. It searches for food day and night.

The bat's fur varies from golden brown to tan, although it may have light-colored fur on its bare back and rump. Bats are gregarious and like to form colonies that may consist of thousands, all hanging from tree tops.

Since the giant flying fox often lives by the sea, it sometimes finds fruit floating on the waves and picks it.

#1. Biggest bat: Golden-crowned flying fox

Biggest bat: Golden-crowned flying fox
The world's largest bat, the Indian flying fox, feeds on the nectar of banana trees.

©OREON Digital Composite/Shutterstock.com

Also known as the golden-topped fruit bat, this animal is the largest bat in the world. Its size is indeed impressive. Although its body length is 7.01 to 11.42 inches, shorter than some other species, it has a wingspan of 5.6 feet and can weigh up to 2.6 pounds.

It is distributed in the Philippines and lives in broad-leaved forests near cliff edges, swamps or mangroves, and other places where it can be far away from human habitation.

Bats have short, smooth, mottled fur with a brown or black head, russet shoulders, cream nape, and blond hair all over. These bats do have a particular smell that humans find offensive. Scientists suspect that this smell helps bats communicate.

Golden-crowned flying foxes are frugivores that help disperse seeds, especially those of figs. Scientists don't know its mating habits or how long it has lived in the wild. They observed that it preferred to roost with other species of fruit bats. The golden-crowned fox leaves its den at sunset to forage for fruit, and returns home before sunrise. The golden-crowned flying fox is endangered due to widespread habitat loss in the Philippines.

Top 10 Biggest Bats in the World

Bats are already formidable creatures, but let's review 10 of the biggest bats of the bunch:

rank species Size (nose to tail)
1 golden crown flying fox 7,01- 11.42 inches
2 big flying fox 10.5 – 13.0 inches (male); 9.2 – 11 inches (female)
3 hammerhead bat 11" (male); 8.8" (female)
4 madagascar flying fox 9 – 10.5 inches
5 Franquet's epaulette bat 5,51 – 7.01 inches
6 lawton's free-tailed bat 6 inches
7 Great Knotty Bat 6 inches
8 Spectrum Bat 5.3 inches
9 greater spear-nosed bat 5.23 inches (male); 4.9 inches (female)
10 big horseshoe bat 4.5 inches
The 10 Largest Bat Watches in the World


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