In South Africa, we currently have 65 different species of bats. This number continuously changes as research is conducted and more and more species are discovered!

KwaZulu-Natal is one of the most species-rich provinces in the country, and we are currently host to around 44 species, which includes species that use our province as a stop-off point during migration.

Take a peak below to find out which species you may encounter.

Insectivorous Bats

As suggested by the heading, insectivorous bats thrive on insects. Depending on the size of the bat and their individual hunting and echolocation skills, these insects can range from mosquitos to moths and even scorpions. They are hard at work each night keeping these populations low which in turn, creates a much more comfortable environment for us.


Horseshoe bats have a very unique nose leaf, it has a horseshoe-shaped base with a single point at the top. There are many nodules on the nose leaf. Other identifying features include large ears, no tragus and tails of various sizes


These bats thrive on moths, beetles and spiders.


They mainly roost in caves and mines but will also stay in buildings, foliage and tree hollows, their roosting numbers vary depending on species and can range from 4 individuals up to the 1000s.


In KwaZulu Natal, you can find 5 different species of horseshoe bats. These include Blasius’s, Darling’s, Robert’s, Bushveld, Swinny’s, and the most common, Geoffroy’s Horseshoe Bat.


The most important feature of the free-tailed bat is its tail, this extends beyond the end of the tail membrane for 1/3 of its length. It has large round ears that are often connected by a flap of skin, the tragus is present and they have small eyes.


Their diet consists of moths, beetles and a variety of other insects.


They commonly roost in rock crevices, bridges, buildings and occasionally caves or tree hollows. Their roosting numbers vary depending on the species


There are 5 different species of free-tailed bats found in KwaZulu Natal these include Angolan, Little, Egyptian, Ansorge’s and the Large-eared giant mastiff bat.


There is a wide variety of vesper bats in Southern Africa and it can be very difficult to identify them to a species level. Their identification features are relatively plain with a fully enclosured tail membrane, a plain nose and a face and a variety of different shape and sized traguses. The tragus and echolocation call is vital when trying to fully identify these bats.


Depending on their size, there diet ranges from mosquitoes, beetles, moths and other insects.


They are known to roost in a variety of areas with most not being too picky in finding their home. These include caves, mines, buildings, tree hollows, under loose bark, curled leaves and rock crevices.


There are a whopping 19 species in KwaZulu Natal, some of the most common species include the Cape Serotine bat, Dusky Pipistrelle, Yellow House Bat and the Banana Bat.


Slit-faced Bats are very easy to identify due to the deep vertical slit in the middle of the face, their tiny eyes and extremely large ears.


These bats thrive on larger prey such as spiders, scorpions, moths, frogs, fish and even small birds and other bats.


They commonly roost in small numbers in tree hollows, caves, road culverts, buildings and dense foliage.


These bats do not eat while flying and will take their prey to their night roost. Here they will commonly meet up with others of their species while they eat.


There are only 13 species word wide with two occurring in KwaZulu Natal. The Hairy slit-faced bat which has an extremely isolated distribution and the much more common Egyptian slit-faced bat.


Long-fingers bats can be a little hard to identify when not in hand. Their main identification feature is the elongated second phalanx on their third finger, giving them the name long-fingered or bent-winged. Other features include their plain face and domed head.


Their prey varies in their size and includes moths, beetles, flies and other insects


They roost in huge numbers and stick exclusively to caves and mines. They are a widespread family and are often migratory.


KwaZulu Natal is home to 3 of the 4 species found in Southern Africa these include, Natal, Lesser and Greater long-fingered bats. These three can be identified apart from each other based on size and echolocation call.


Sheath-tailed bats or Tomb bats can be identified through their tails which protrude from the dorsal surface of the tail membrane. They have a plain nose and mouth, large eyes and a flat, triangular-shaped head.


Their diet consists of moths, beetles, smaller insects and occasionally, butterflies.


They are commonly found on the outside walls of buildings, tree trunks, rock crevices and occasionally in caves.


KwaZulu Natal is home to only one Sheath-tailed bat, the Mauritian tomb bat.

Hipposideridae and Rhinonycteridae

Leaf-nosed and Trident bats are relatively new families of bats which have been split from the Horseshoe family.


Both groups have intricate nose-leaf shapes with the Leaf-nosed bat sporting a half moon nose and the Trident bat sporting a horse-shoe base with three distinctive points at the top.


Percival’s short-eared trident bat and Sundevall’s leaf-nosed bat are the only species found in KwaZulu Natal


Both are very small bats weighing between 5 to 8 grams and will generally take on smaller prey

Fruit Bats

Fruit-eating bats are generally larger than microbats and thrive on a variety of fruits. But that is not all that they enjoy, many will consume leaves, nectar, sap, and pollen. In KwaZulu-Natal, we have three species of these bats but other species are known to use the province as a stop-off point during migration.

Rousettus aegyptiacus

These bats feed predominantly on fruit, nectar and leaves.


Their main identification features are their large size, large eyes and small ears, a dog-like face and snout, and a second claw on their second finger. This is a feature unique to fruit bats.


While many fruit bats choose a more open roosting site, Egyptian Fruit Bats usually choose caves, this is the reason why they have developed their unique type of echolocation. This is needed to navigate the darkness of the cave.


Roost sizes vary but selective caves in KwaZulu Natal are home to thousands of bats. During the winter months, they settle in the province and throughout spring they start their migration to a more suitable climate to breed.

Epomophorus wahlbergi

These are the fruit bats that you are more likely to see in the province. They have a wide distribution but prefer warmer areas.


Their diet is much the same as other fruit bats and includes fruit, nectar, leaves and pollen.


They roost in much more open areas and prefer trees, palm fronds or leaf tents, eaves of tall buildings, and dense foliage.


Their main identification features are their large size, large eyes and small ears, a dog-like face and snout, and a second claw on their second finger. This is a feature unique to fruit bats. The bats also have two small tufts of the ear, just behind the ears. This is a type of disruptive camouflage and helps them to blend in tree canopies.


Roost sizes may vary but will usually consist of smaller numbers from 3 to 100 individuals.