Sac-winged bats

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Sac-winged bats
Saccopteryx sp.

Saccopteryx sp.

Superordinate : Laurasiatheria
Order : Bats (chiroptera)
Family : Smooth-nosed cantails (Emballonuridae)
Subfamily : Emballonurinae
Tribe : Diclidurini
Genre : Sac-winged bats
Scientific name
Illiger , 1811

The Sackflügel- or two strips bats ( Saccopteryx ) are in America living species of Myotis bats-free tails (Emballonuridae).


The genus Saccopteryx includes five species that occur from southern Mexico to southeastern Brazil . This genus is named after a sack-shaped indentation in the fore wing membrane (antebrachium) of the male (saccus: Latin for the sack; pteron: Greek for the wing). Females only have a rudiment of this bag. The species name of Saccopteryx bilineata refers to two stripes in the dorsal fur, which, however, also bear the three other species of the genus Saccopteryx .


Bats of the Saccopteryx genus spend the day in relatively well-lit places, for example at the openings in tree hollows, in the niches between buttress roots, in indentations in tree trunks or on human structures. As a rule, they do not hang from the ceiling, but on vertical structures. The individuals in a colony maintain a minimum distance of a few centimeters from one another.


Most behavioral observations were made on Saccopteryx bilineata . The males' pouch contains a fragrant liquid which the males fanned over to the females in a buzzing flight (Bradbury & Emmons 1974). Histological examinations showed that the pocket epithelium has no gland cells (Stark 1958, Scully et al. 2000). In the afternoon, the males fill their pockets with secretions from different parts of the body (saliva, urine, secretions from the gular gland and a genital gland). The scent of the bags is then fanned out to the females (Bradbury & Emmons 1974, Voigt & von Helversen 1999, Voigt 2002). In addition to courtship in hovering flight, the males also utter chants with which they attract females (Behr & von Helversen 2004).

Pairing systems

So far only the mating systems of Saccopteryx bilineata and leptura have been described. According to Bradbury & Vehrencamp (1976, 1977) Saccopteryx leptura has a monogamous mating system in which a male is usually related to a female in the day quarters. The colonies of Saccopteryx bilineata can number several dozen individuals (Bradbury & Emmons 1974). The social subunit consists of an adult territorial male and several females. In the past, such pairing systems were described as harem-polygynous (Bradbury & Vehrencamp 1976, 1977). Molecular genetic analyzes have shown that the territorial harem males cannot monopolize the females in their group (Heckel et al. 1999). Nevertheless, harem males produce more offspring than those who do not defend a group of females (Heckel & von Helversen 2002). The number of offspring of a harem male increases with the size of the harem (Heckel & von Helversen 2002). Since males who do not defend a female group also produce offspring, it is assumed that female choice is important in this mating system. Males rarely interact with territorial males. Experiments in a colony of sack-winged bats have shown that males without a group of females stand in line to take the place of a harem male if this is missing (Voigt & Streich 2003). Since there are few direct male-male interactions and flight maneuvers are important in both territorial defense and courtship, small males presumably have a selective advantage (Voigt et al. 2001, 2005)


The following five species are placed in this genus:


  • O. Behr, O. von Helversen: Bat serenades - complex courtship songs of the sac-winged bat (Saccopteryx bilineata). In: Behav Ecol Sociobiol. 56, 2004, pp. 106-115.
  • JW Bradbury, L. Emmons: Social organization of some trinidad bats. I Emballonuridae. In: Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie. 36, 1974, pp. 137-183.
  • JW Bradbury, SL Vehrencamp: Social organization and foraging in Emballonurid bats I. Field studies. In: Behav Ecol Sociobiol. 1, 1976, pp. 337-381.
  • JW Bradbury, SL Vehrencamp: Social organization and foraging in Emballonurid bats III. Mating systems. In: Behav Ecol Sociobiol. 2, 1977, pp. 1-17.
  • G. Heckel, O. von Helversen: Male tactics and reproductive success in the harem polygynous bat Saccopteryx bilineata. In: Behav Ecol. 13, 2002, pp. 750-756.
  • G. Heckel, O. von Helversen: Genetic mating system, relatedness and the significance of harem associations in the bat Saccopteryx bilineata. In: Mol Ecol. 12, 2003, pp. 219-227.
  • G. Heckel, R. Achmann, F. Mayer: Highly polymorphic microsatellite markers in the white-lined bat (Saccopteryx bilineata). In: Mol Ecol. 9, 2000, pp. 242-244.
  • WM Scully, MB Fenton, ASM Saleuddin: A histological examination of holding sacs and scent glandular organs of some bats (Emballonuridae, Hipposideridae, Phyllostomidae, Vespertilionidae and Molossidae). In: Canadian Journal of Zoology. 78, 2000, pp. 613-623.
  • D. Starck: Contribution to the knowledge of the arm pockets and other skin gland organs of Saccopteryx bilineata Temminck 1838 (Chiroptera, Emballonuridae) In: Gegenbaur Morphologisches Jahrbuch. 99, 1958, pp. 3-25.
  • CC Voigt: Individual variation of perfume-blending in male sac-winged bats. In: Animal Behavior. 63, 2002, pp. 907-913.
  • CC Voigt, WJ Streich: Queuing for harem access in colonies of the sac-winged bat. In: Anim Behav. 65, 2003, 149-156.
  • CC Voigt, O. Von Helversen .: Storage and display of odor by male Saccopteryx bilineata (Chiroptera; Emballonuridae). In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 47, 1999, pp. 29-40.
  • CC Voigt, O. von Helversen, RH Michener, TH Kunz: The economics of harem maintenance in the sac-winged bat Saccopteryx bilineata. In: Behav Ecol Sociobiol. 50, 2001, pp. 31-36.
  • CC Voigt, G. Heckel, F. Mayer .: Sexual selection favors mall and symmetric males in the polygynous greater sac-winged bat Saccopteryx bilineata (Emballonuridae, Chiroptera). In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 57, 2005, pp. 457-464.

Individual evidence

  1. Saccopteryx in the IUCN 2012 Red List of Threatened Species . Accessed January 12, 2015.

Web links

Commons : Sac-winged bats ( Saccopteryx )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files