Animal Database

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Animal Database
Animal Database
Hammer-headed Bat
Common Name Big-lipped Bat
Range equatorial Africa.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Chiroptera
Family Pteropodidae
Genus Hypsignathus
Species Hypsignathus monstrosus
Conservation Status
Least Concern

The Hammer-headed bat (Hypsignathus monstrosus), also known as the big-lipped bat, is a species of megabat widely distributed in equatorial Africa. This large bat is found in riverine forests, mangroves, swamps, and palm forests at elevations less than 1,800 metres (5,900 ft).


The hammer-headed bat is a member of the family Pteropodidae. Pteropodidae is divided into two subfamilies, Macroglossinae which contains six genera, and Pteropodinae containing thirty-six genera including Hypsignathus. The family Pteropodidae is found within the suborder, Megachiroptera. This group is commonly referred to as the megabats or flying foxes.

Physical Description[]

The hammer-headed bat is the largest bat in Africa with a wingspan of 686 to 970 mm (27.0 to 38.2 in) and a total length of 195 to 285 mm (7.7 to 11.2 in). Males, ranging from 228 to 450 g (8.0 to 15.9 oz), are significantly larger than females, which range from 218 to 377 g (7.7 to 13.3 oz).

Pelage is grey-brown to slaty-brown with a whitish collar of fur extending from shoulder to shoulder. The flight membranes are brown and the ears are dark brown with a tuft of white fur at the base. The face is dark brown with a few long, stiff whiskers around the mouth.

The skull may be diagnosed by specific dental features. The second premolar and molars are markedly lobed. This feature is specific for this genus, and no other African fruit bats have this characteristic.

There is extreme sexual dimorphism in this species. The male possesses an enormous head for producing loud honking calls. The enlarged rostrum, larynx and lips allow these sounds to be extremely resonant. The larynx is one half the length of the vertebral column and fills out most of the thoracic cavity. It is nearly three times larger in males than females. The male also has a hairless split chin and warty rostrum with wrinkled skin around it. Females have a much more fox-like appearance similar to most fruit bats.

Interactions with Humans[]

Hammer-headed bats has no special conservation status. In 2004, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species listed this species as Least Concern on the basis of its widespread distribution and lack of threats to its habitat.

Due to this bat’s diet of fruit, mainly figs but they will eat bananas and guava, it may be considered a crop pest. It has also been observed to attack live chickens. This observation was reported once and cannot be considered a regular occurrence. Humans hunt this large bat and consume it as bushmeat.

The hammer-headed bat is one of three species of African fruit bat claimed to be asymptomatically infected with the Ebola virus. It is not known whether these species are incidental hosts or a reservoir of Ebolavirus infection for humans and other terrestrial mammals.