An Eye on Wildlife

Wildlife Conservation Society Menu
Hammer-headed Bat

May 15, 2018

Hammer-headed Bat

- as seen by -

Sarah H. Olson Sarah H. Olson

I’m simply awestruck by hammer-headed fruit bats (Hypsignathus monstrosus). Close-up any given feature, eye, fur, nose, ear, wing, or foot, is extraordinary. In hand, whiskers appear in patterns seemingly unique to each individual, and the nasal and lip folds of the adult males, like the one shown, provide a sculptural finish to the overall moose-head look. As we handle them to collect samples, they show distinct behaviors ranging from docile to teeth masher, hence the thick leather gloves. Functionally, as the largest fruit bats in Africa (males weigh in around one pound), they are flying seed dispersal machines, critical to equatorial forest health. In fact, this last mission we captured one, fig-in-mouth-in-flight.

The GPS trackers we deployed, and seen on this bat, will help us understand the ecology and behavior of hammer-headed bats. The Wildlife Conservation Society is partnering with the U.S. National Institutes of Health because these same bats are suspected to be asymptomatic reservoirs for Ebola virus. Aside from threats to human health, this deadly virus is linked to massive declines in populations of western lowland gorillas in Congo and Gabon. Our job as scientists is to find a way to prevent Ebola outbreaks and help conserve these bats for future generations, one bat at time.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Read more on hammer-headed bats here.

, Africa Map It


Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

May 16, 2018 at 12:08 pm

What transmitter are you utilising ?

May 17, 2018 at 12:20 am

wow! good luck

philip dimauro
May 21, 2018 at 9:37 am

dear sarah and colleagues:

a magazine post is saying these gorgeous and amazing bats can now be found in florida. truth or bats**t?



    Wild View Editor
    May 22, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Hi Phil

    Thanks for your thoughts on these cool bats. The above post is accurate on where hammerheaded bats are found in the wild.

Lori Peltier
May 21, 2018 at 10:13 am

These bats should be called Moosehead bats they look more like a moose than a hammer

    July 28, 2018 at 6:57 am

    Kind of a combination of Moose and Squirrel – ha!
    Bullwinkle and Rocky mixed into one

Has an muhammad
May 22, 2018 at 4:37 am

Take care. There is an outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala state, south India. Certain kind of fruit Bat is suspected to be carrier of the deadly Virus. More than five people have been died in the state last week

Roger C.
June 17, 2018 at 2:56 pm

Intersting article, and I would enjoy seeing more data. I thought I’d mention that I did some work with Bradbury on H. monstrous about 40 years ago. Published in Jo. Exp. Biology, Carpenter, 1986,”Flight physiology of some intermediate-sized fruit bats.” (as I recall title !)

    July 20, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Replying to the questions which I just realized were here!
    Jaco – it is an Eobs Solar 15g tracker
    Philip – they are only found in Africa when it comes to wild bats, though one can’t rule out a possible captive population in Florida
    Rodger C – I’ve already had some email exchanges with Dr. Bradbury and downloaded your article! Early days still for the tracking but we’ll publish our findings.

Dr. Jessica Claudio
July 14, 2018 at 4:43 am

That is one extraordinary gift to the world!

July 28, 2018 at 7:14 pm

OMG!! That is the most Adorable bat I’ve ever seen! You’re so lucky to have spent time with them.
Sarah are they as sweet and loving as they look? My fiance and I are in debate over this, he says they are vicious and I say they are fruit bats that need love and understanding not judgement haha i know its a bat but still ever living creature needs love.
Ty ,

July 29, 2018 at 8:35 am

I truly hope that most dangerous, destructive and greedy species, man, leaves these creatures in peace to perform their essential work.

Yahya yassin
August 16, 2018 at 10:26 am

They are extremely unique and exemplary features,recently found in Kenya,west pokot county n locals believe it is witchcraft

September 8, 2018 at 3:08 pm

Wow that is a beautiful creature. Looks like a flying gerbil.

Billy donald
September 25, 2018 at 8:35 pm

A friend of mine caught a hammerhead bat in upstate South Carolina

    Crankie Wesson
    October 5, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    Billy, pictures to share?

Joyce Guardado
October 18, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Absolutely beautiful creatures
I am hoping to one day to have a bat rehab in my area.
They can be quite cute happy to cling to a human for hours while we do things. I wish more people would take the time to get to know these amazing creatures. They are crucial to our planet.

May 22, 2019 at 11:50 am


May 22, 2019 at 11:50 am


ella estell
January 6, 2020 at 5:48 pm

so my sister asked if there bad for you, like if they bite you do you get diseases.

Leslie Rittenberg
June 8, 2020 at 2:34 am

I am happy to see this little fellow for the first time! Hope to hear a lot more about him or her.

Tina waldrep
October 4, 2020 at 11:55 am

Wow I love bats but never know about this one . I see them as

  • Pingback: the flying mammal with the head of a puppy | News Logged

  • Pingback: El murciélago más grande de África tiene cara de alce y es una pieza clave para el estudio del ébola | NoticiaSiglo21

  • Pingback: Meet the hammer-headed bat: the flying mammal with the head of a puppy - HEALTHY LIVING NEWS

  • Stephen
    February 20, 2022 at 4:18 pm

    Amazing creature. Don’t know anything about them, but i will do some research

  • Pingback: mythology of bats – World Mythology

  • Pingback: MYTHOLOGY OF BATS – Indigenous Peoples Literature

  • Jenny Rodriguez
    September 1, 2023 at 2:59 am

    What darling creatures are these! Beautiful animal. Thank you so much for caring and doing the work that you do. Is there someway that I can donate to your organization?

      WCS Photo Blog
      September 6, 2023 at 1:09 pm

      Hello Jenny,

      The hammer-headed bat is indeed unique. If you’d like to donate to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), you can use this link – https://bronxzoo.com/donate. You may also send a check to the below address or call in a credit card donation by dialing 718-741-1654 between 9:00 AM–5:00 PM, Monday–Friday.

      Wildlife Conservation Society
      PO Box 96215
      Washington, DC 20090-6215

      Thank you and have a nice day!