Silky short-tailed bat (Carollia brevicauda)

Silky short-tailed bat close up
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Silky short-tailed bat fact file

Silky short-tailed bat description

GenusCarollia (1)

A member of the leaf-nosed bat family (Phyllostomidae), the silky short-tailed bat (Carollia brevicaudai) possesses the leaf-shaped nose characteristic of species in this group, giving it a rather comical face. The silky short-tailed bat has medium brown fur and a very short tail, a feature which distinguishes it from other species of bats in the genus Carollia (2). The short tail gives this species its scientific name ‘brevicauda’, as the Latin words ‘brevis’ and ‘cauda’ mean ‘short’ and ‘tail’ respectively (3).

The silky short-tailed bat closely resembles Sheba’s short-tailed bat (Carollia perspicillata) and, as the two species often occupy the same roosts, they are frequently confused. However, the female silky short-tailed bat is smaller than the male, whereas male and female Sheba’s short-tailed bats are similar in size. The silky short-tailed bat can also be distinguished by its larger outer lower incisor teeth (4).

Head-body length: 58.3 mm (2)
Tail length: 6.2 mm (2)
12.5 - 13.7 g (2)

Silky short-tailed bat biology

The silky short-tailed bat has a generalist diet, consuming fruits, flowers and insects plucked from foliage (1) (2) (5). It feeds on a variety of fruits, although the slender, candle-like green fruits of pepper plants (Piper species) are a favoured item (1). During the dry season its diet is supplemented by nectar (1). This varied diet has enabled the silky short-tailed bat to occupy a range of habitats (5), but unfortunately has also contributed to its reputation as a pest. It has apparently increased in numbers by exploiting the availability of crops as a source of food, and has been reported to inflict damage to plantations of mango, coffee bean, guava and pawpaw (6).

The silky short-tailed bat is an important component of the tropical ecosystems it inhabits, as it provides the critical service of dispersing the seeds of the fruits on which it feeds. Interestingly, research has found that Piper seeds are more likely to germinate if they have first been ingested and defecated by the silky short-tailed bat (7).

The breeding season of the silky short-tailed bat varies depending on the location. It breeds in mid-winter in Ecuador, in early summer in Peru, and from December to August in Mexico and Central America (6). Usually a single young is born after a gestation period of 2.5 to 3 months (6).


Silky short-tailed bat range

The silky short-tailed bat occurs in Central and South America. Its range extends from Panama, south through Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, to Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. It also occurs on the island of Trinidad (1) (2).


Silky short-tailed bat habitat

Occurring in rainforest, clearings and plantations, the silky short-tailed bat appears to be more common in disturbed habitats than in mature forests (1). It roosts in caves, hollow trees, rock crevices, houses and under the leaves of banana (Musa) plants (2).


Silky short-tailed bat status

The silky short-tailed bat is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Silky short-tailed bat threats

The silky short-tailed bat is not currently known to be facing any major threats (1).


Silky short-tailed bat conservation

Throughout its range the silky short-tailed bat occurs in a number of protected areas (1), but due to its wide distribution, large and stable population and ability to tolerate a wide range of habitats, no specific conservation measures are currently being undertaken (1).  

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.


This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ scientific species name; the second part is the specific name.
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.


  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2010)
  2. Eisenberg, J.F. and Redford, K.H. (1999) Mammals of the Neotropics. Volume 3: The Central Neotropics: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  3. Schwartz, C.W. and Schwartz, E.R. (2001) The Wild Mammals of Missouri. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri.
  4. Pine, R.H. (1972) The bats of the genus Carollia. Technical Monographs, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas A & M University, 8: 1-25.
  5. Estrada, A. and Coates-Estrada, R. (2002) Bats in continuous forest, forest fragments and agricultural mosaic habitat-island at Los Tuxtlas, Mexico. Biological Conservation, 103: 237-245.
  6. Nowak, R.M. (1994) Walker’s Bats of the World. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  7. Lopez, J.E. and Vaughan, C. (2004) Observations on the role of frugivorous bats as seed dispersers in Costa Rican secondary humid forests. Acta Chiropterologica, 6(1): 111-119.

Image credit

Silky short-tailed bat close up  
Silky short-tailed bat close up

© Frank Greenaway / The Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum Picture Library
Cromwell Road
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Fax: +44 (0) 207 942 5443


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