The tiny sheath-tailed bat (Coleura seychellensis) is one of only two mammals endemic to the Seychelles, a group of islands north of Madagascar. Bats are also the only mammals able to truly fly, not just glide. Sheath-tailed bats are nocturnal and insectivorous, using echolocation to catch their food. These bats are tiny, weighing only about 10 grams and forearm lengths of about 54 centimeters. Sheath-tailed bats live in smallish colonies, made of 1-2 males and several females. They are the rarest bat in the world.
There are only about 30-100 sheath-tailed bats left in the world. They were once common, across the Seychelles, but they have declined sharply in the 1900s. They are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN red list of bats and will shortly become extinct without adequate conservation measures. Unfortunately, very little is known about the sheath-tailed bat, so it is not clear why their population declined so rapidly. Some possible causes may be predation from barn owls, habitat loss, and loss of prey. Habitat loss is caused by expanding coconut plantations and other factors which have severely limited the sheath-tailed bat’s range. They are also endangered by loss of prey because of increased use of pesticides that kill off insects. New invasive species of plants also threaten many insects, who can’t eat them, thus threatening the sheath-tailed bat as well.
Image courtesy of It's Nature
Bats are good indicators of how their environment is doing and are related to how healthy that habitat is. The sheath-tailed bat is so endangered could be a sign of more widespread problems for the environment.
The most important concern to take care of for the sheath-tailed bat is habitat loss. Their roosts and the habitat surrounding those roosts must be protected for them to be protected, as they provide shelter, foraging, and social interaction. Also, because not much is known about this bat, more researching studies are needed to help them. You can help by raising awareness for the rarest bat and by donating to organizations working to create and protect bat roosts as well as learning more about these bats.
(2010, February 17). Its Nature. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://itsnature.org/endangered/seychelles-sheath-tailed-bat/
Sr., T. (2020, May 29). Seychelles Sheath-Tailed Bat. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://www.ourbreathingplanet.com/seychelles-sheath-tailed-bat/
Nature Seychelles (n.d.). Sheath-tail bat, the rarest bat in the world. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from http://natureseychelles.org/knowledge-centre/seychelles-wildlife-2/other-species/61-sheath-tailed-bat-the-rarest-bat-in-the-world
Cover Image courtesy of Sophie Mounier.