Emballonuridae is a family of bats commonly known as sheath-tailed or sac-winged bats. I’m surprised these bats aren’t better known, because they have very uniquely appealing little faces. I think it’s the perpetually upturned nose.
They also have a stunning variety of colors, from the pure-white northern ghost bat to the dark chocolate of the Hill’s sheath-tailed bat.
Among them are some excellent camoflaugers, such as the proboscis bat, which looks like a bit of lichen or damaged bark on a tree.
In fact, many species in Emballonuridae roost on the trunks and branches of trees, in broad daylight, depending on their camouflage to keep them safe. They like to do it in neat little lines.
Sometimes they also stack.
You may have noticed their short little tailed. They’re sometimes called sheath-tailed bats because these tails protrude out of the membrane between their back legs, which can be pulled up to “sheath” the tail. Here’s a video if you don’t quite understand what I mean.
As I mentioned earlier, they’re also called sac-winged bats. This is because they have special pouches near their wrists designed to release pheromones into the air when they flap their wings. Below is a close up of the pouch, closed and then opened.
For the most part these are very small bats, with weights as low as three to four grams- one of the smallest, the proboscis bat, can get caught in spiderwebs and eaten.
Aside from roosting in trees, these bats roost in caves, crevices, and occasionally, human-made structures like wells or stone tombs. Because of this, several species are known as tomb bats. They’re pretty adorable little harbingers of death if you ask me.
Main set (species in photo caption): Bat Conservation Intl / Jasmine Vink / University of KwaZulu-Natal / Merlin Tuttle / Michael Penney
Emedded in text: Bateleur Nature Reserve / ARKive / Riley Pearce / PSUNHM / Christian Ziegler