middle caicos
sandy point
mudjin harbour
mudjin harbour
previous arrow
next arrow

Mammals of Turks and Caicos Islands : Bats

A researcher observes the knuckle joint conditions in a Redman’s
long-tongued flower bat to determine the bat’s age – they can live up to 30 years.
©Angelo Soto-Centeno

Bats (locally called rat-bats) are the only known extant native mammals in the Turks & Caicos Islands. The only other native mammal was the hutia, a guinea-pig like rodent that lives in mangroves. It is most likely extinct in TCI.

All other mammals in TCI have been introduced by humans. The wild black rats and house mice, feral cats and dogs, and free- roaming livestock including horses, donkeys, pigs, goats, and cattle were all introduced by people, either deliberately or accidentally. Feral mammals have a significant impact on native wildlife, and feral cats in particular have caused the extinction of Turks & Caicos rock iguanas from most of the inhabited islands.

Bats are divided into two divisions: The megabats, also called flying foxes, which are found in Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands; and microbats, which are found worldwide. All of TCI’s bats are microbats.

Research on bat populations, phylogeny, and demographics has been carried out by a number of international institutions including Bat Conservation Trust (UK), Carnegie Museum of Natural History (USA), and the University of Florida (USA).

Research has shown that the bats of Conch Bar Caves leave in a strict order. Monophyllus leave the caves as the sun is setting. Erophylla leave next, as soon as the sun has set. Macrotus leave at the end of dusk, but go in and out of the caves through the night. Finally, Brachyphylla leave the caves after rallying at the entrances to await complete darkness.

Bats of the Turks & Caicos Islands

Common name

Scientific name



Cuban fruit bat

Brachyphylla nana

Caves on Middle Caicos

Fruit: Palm fruit, berries, wild dilly; also cultivated fruit

Buffy flower bat

Erophylla sezekorni

Caves on Providenciales, Middle, and probably East Caicos

Fruit and flowers, nectar, pollen, and beetles

Redman’s long-tongued flower bat

Monophyllus redmanii

Caves on Middle and North Caicos

Nectar, pollen, flower parts, and small insects

Waterhouse’s big-eared bat

Macrotus waterhousii

Caves on Caicos Islands, including cays

Large insects: cockroaches, cicadas, erebus moths, and katydids

Red bat

Lasiurus borealis

Large trees on Caicos Islands, including cays

Small insects: moths, beetles, mosquitoes