Banana bat (Musonycteris harrisoni)

Banana bat
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Banana bat fact file

Banana bat description


The most distinguishing feature of the banana bat (Musonycteris harrisoni) is its extremely elongated snout, hence its alternative name of 'trumpet-nosed bat’. This medium-sized, highly-specialised bat also possesses a remarkably long tongue, which measures an incredible two-thirds of its body length when fully extended (3). The fur is typically a greyish-brown colour and the hairs have a rather spiny appearance around the face and neck (4). The ears are small and rounded and the tail is short (2).

Total length: 8 cm (2)
Male weight: 13 g (2)
Female weight: 11 g (2)

Banana bat biology

The banana bat feeds primarily on the nectar of a variety of plants, including native cacti and the introduced banana plant, using its specialised elongated snout to feed from particularly long-tubed flowers (3). It also feeds on insects (3), and bites or pulls off anthers from flowers to feed on the pollen (6). While feeding, some of the pollen may become stuck to the spiny hairs around the bat’s face and neck (4), and is then carried to the next flower the bat feeds from. As a result, the banana bat acts as a pollinator of bananas and other plants (6). The banana bat may undertake short seasonal migrations in order to find flowering plants on which to feed (1).

The banana bat typically roosts in small colonies in trees, under rocky overhangs or in caves. Although studies of reproduction in the banana bat are scarce, it is thought to reproduce once a year during the dry season, between mid-March and mid-April (2).


Banana bat range

The banana bat has a relatively small distribution, being found only in western Mexico in the states of Colima, Michoacán, Guerrero (3), Jalisco and Morelos (2).


Banana bat habitat

The banana bat is restricted to tropical deciduous and dry forest. This type of habitat is characterised by a rainy season during the months of June through to October and a drier season from November through to May (1) (5) (6).


Banana bat status

The banana bat is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Banana bat threats

The main threat facing the banana bat is habitat loss (1). The dry forest habitat of the banana bat is one of the most endangered habitats in Mexico, due to the pressures of an increasing human population (3).


Banana bat conservation

The banana bat is protected by Mexican law and occurs in at least two protected areas, which should hopefully offer its habitat some level of protection (1). As the banana bat appears to be reliant on undisturbed forests that contain its preferred food plants and suitable roost sites, it is important that the remaining dry forests of western Mexico are protected (3) (6).


Find out more

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The anther is the part of the stamen (the male reproductive organ of a flower) that produces pollen.
A plant that sheds its leaves at the end of the growing season.
An animal that in the act of visiting a plant’s flowers transfers pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.


  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2010)
  2. Tellez, G. and Ortega, J. (1999) Musonycteris harrisoni. Mammalian Species, 622: 1-3.
  3. Tschapka, M., Sperr, E.B., Caballero-Martínez, L.A. and Medellín, R.A. (2008) Diet and cranial morphology of Musonycteris harrisoni, a highly specialized nectar-feeding bat in western Mexico. Journal of Mammalogy, 89(4): 924-931.
  4. Howell, D.J. and Hodgkin, N. (1976) Feeding adaptation in the hairs and tongues of nectar-feeding bats. Journal of Morphology, 148: 329-336.
  5. Stoner, K.E., Quesada, M., Rosas-Guerrero, V. and Lobo, J.A. (2002) Effects of forest fragmentation on the Colima long-nosed bat (Musonycteris harrisoni) foraging in tropical dry forest of Jalisco. Biotropica, 34(3): 462-467.
  6. Quesada, M., Stoner, K.E., Rosas-Guerrero, V., Palacios-Guevara, C. and Lobo, J.A. (2003) Effects of habitat disruption on the activity of nectarivorous bats (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae) in a dry tropical forest: implications for the reproductive success of the neotropical tree Ceiba grandiflora. Oecologia, 135: 400-406.

Image credit

Banana bat  
Banana bat

© Dr. Rodrigo A. Medellín

Dr. Rodrigo A. Medellín


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