African sliding-tailed bat

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African sliding-tailed bat
Order: Bats (Chiroptera)
Family: Smooth-nosed free-tails (Emballonuridae)
Subfamily: Emballonurinae
Tribus: Emballonurini
Genre: Sliding-tailed bats(Coleura)
Art: African sliding-tailed bat
Scientific name
Coleura afra
(Peters, 1852)

The African sliding-tailed bat(Coleura afra) is a species of bat in the smooth-nosed free-tailed family (Emballonuridae), which is native to Africa. It was previously the second species of its genus, along with the endangered Seychelles Slaty-tailed Bat(Coleura seychellensis), but the newly discovered population in Madagascar may be a separate, new species[1].


The African Sliding-tailed Bat is the smallest representative of the smooth-nosed free-tailed bats in Africa, weighing 10-12 g. The females are slightly larger than the males (sexual dimorphism). Their fur is brown and the hairs are bicoloured with a dark base and a light tip. The face appears black and hairless. The flight skin is brown and unlike many other members of this family, the African Slaty-tailed Bat does not have wing pouches.

Distribution and habitat

Distribution area of Coleura afra

The African Sliding-Tailed Bat occurs in Central and West Africa in the Central African Republic, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and along the coast of Somalia, as well as in parts of Guinea, in Ghana and Benin, and locally in Angola. Recently, the species was also discovered in northern Madagascar.
Its population is classified by the IUCN as non-threatened thanks to its wide distribution[2].


Like most bats, the African slider-tailed bat is nocturnal. During the day, it prefers to hang out in light-colored caves, basements, and abandoned buildings along lakes and seashores. The same caves may also be home to other bat species, such as the Mauritius burrowing bat(Taphozous mauritianus), Taphozous perforatus, Taphozous hildegardeae, Hipposideros caffer, Rhinopoma macinnesi, and Asellia tridens. Colonies of the African slider-tailed bat can number up to 50,000 individuals, with each individual hanging out in a specific place. Colonies are divided into groups of up to 20 individuals and single males. These groups are thought to be harems, each defended by a male. When it gets too warm, the animals do not hang in clusters, but split up and keep a certain distance to each other. During cold periods the groups move together and form a large, homogeneous group to store heat.


In Kenya, females give birth twice a year at the beginning of the rainy season. The gestation period is about 114 days, with 8 days longer during the second, shorter rainy season of the year. Young born during the shorter rainy season grow more slowly than young from the long rainy season, but are more likely to survive. After nursing, females often remain in their mother’s colony longer than males. They reach sexual maturity in the first year after birth, although females born in the short rainy season may suppress their first pregnancy so that it does not fall in the long dry season.


  1. S.M. Goodman, D. Andriafidison, R. Andrianaivoarivelo, S. G. Cardiff, E. Ifticene, R. K. B. Jenkins, A. Kofoky, T. Mbohoahy, D. Rakotondravony, J. Ranivo, F. Ratrimomanarivo, J. Razafimanahaka, P. A. Racey (2005): The distribution and conservation of bats in the dry regions of Madagascar. Animal Conservation 8, pp. 153-165(full text)
  2. Coleura afra in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


  • Jenna Dunlop (1997): Coleura afra, Mammalian Species, No. 566, pp. 1-4(full text)

Web links

  • Images of the African Sliding-Tailed Bat(Coleura afra): 1, 2