Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Species Spotlight: Western Pipistrelle

October 7, 2010, 9:21 am

Although bats are often considered spooky, spotting a western pipistrelle (Pipistrellus hesperus) might not be as frightful as you think. These boo-tiful little critters are insectivores— preferring insects to human blood—and keep the pests at the Grand Canyon in check! Although they’re the most commonly seen bats in the park, they’re also the smallest, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars.

Description: Small, drab-gray or smoke-gray bat with distinct, black, leathery facial mask and black membranes.

Park habitat: Western pipistrelles typically inhabit areas with rocky exposures and rock-walled canyons, but are also found foraging along the rivers and their tributaries.

Diet: Western pipistrelles forage up to fifteen meters above the ground on small, swarming insects, including small flies, moths, beetles, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, ants and wasps.

Threats: The destruction of rocky areas due to renewed mining or other development activities (such as road construction, housing developments and water impoundments) can kill roosting bats and destroy roosting habitat.

Interesting fact: Bats are more closely related to humans than they are to rodents!