One of the most carnivorous of bats, the ghost bat emerges from the roost after sunset and flies up to two kilometres to a preferred foraging site, where it hangs from a perch to await passing prey (2) (3) (4) (7). The diet includes a variety of small animals, including large insects, small mammals, lizards, frogs, birds, and even other bats (2) (3) (5) (7) (10), and an individual may take prey up to 60 or even 80 percent of its own weight (3) (6) (7) (10). Some fruit may also be eaten (1) (7). The species’ alternative name of ‘false vampire bat’ reflects the old but erroneous belief that this species, like the true vampire bats, feeds on blood (2) (6). However, the ghost bat is still a fearsome predator, able to locate prey by both sight and sound, and ambushing it in the air or by dropping on it from above, usually killing it with a bite to the head or neck (2) (3) (4) (6) (7). The prey is then taken to a feeding perch or back to the roost to be consumed (1) (2) (5) (6) (7).
The ghost bat typically roosts alone or in small groups, with larger ‘maternity’ colonies forming during the breeding season (2) (3) (4) (5) (8). Each population appears to have a regionally centralised maternity site, with only around ten such sites known to exist (9). Mating occurs in April and May, and the female ghost bat gives birth to a single young from around July to November (2) (3) (5). The young bat is carried by the female for the first four weeks, after which it is left at the roost and fed on prey brought back by the female (2) (5) (6). Weaning occurs by about three months (5), and both sexes reach maturity in the second year. Lifespan in this species has been recorded at over 16 years in captivity (2).