The Galapagos Red Bat is a subspecies of the Southern Red Bat, which is found throughout North and South America. Elsewhere in the world, the red bats migrate for winter in a similar way to some birds, but the Galapagos Red Bat is thought to stay resident all year round. There has been very little scientific study of these creatures here on the Galapagos, so much of their habits remain unknown.
The Galapagos red bat differs from the other resident species, the Hoary Bat, in that it is considerably smaller. Visually, it has a short, blunt head head and ears and thickly-furred tail membrane with bright orange fur on the lower back. Galapagos Red Bats prefer to fly close to the ground using very fast wing beats.
Red bats are most often to be found roosting under leaves in the forests where they hang upside down, wrapping themselves with their wings and trying to stay inconspicuous. Like almost all bats, Galapagos red bats are nocturnal, using echolocation to locate their favourite prey - mainly flying insects like cicadas, moths and flies.
Because they haven’t been widely studied, the population reach of the Galapagos Red Bat isn’t fully understood. At the moment, we think they are only living on the islands of Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. However because they are on the inhabited islands, this gives you the best chance to spot them - they will often be seen flying close to the streetlights, picking off the flying insects attracted by the artificial light!
If you are enjoying an overnight stay before or after your Galapatours cruise on either San Cristobal or Santa Cruz you may well have the chance to observe these creatures as you walk in the evenings.
Fast Facts about the Galapagos Red Bat
- Red Bats like to hang upside down by one foot in trees to fool predators into thinking they are leaves!
- Female Red Bats can give birth to up to 4 pups at a time
- Baby Red bats can't fly for themselves until 6 weeks old, meaning the mother must carry them
- If you see a Red Bat on the ground, don't touch it. They will bite and this can lead to infection.