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Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)

Diputación de Málaga
Murcielago enano NT MA

Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)

Reproduction Zeal Topping Hibernation
Animal Life > Mammals


It is a small sized bat (head-body length 3.6 to 5.1 cm), the smallest of those present in Europe. It has short, triangular ears, with a kidney-shaped and round-tipped tragus (small prominent lobe inside the ear). It has a short snout with glandular bulges in the males, who also present "mouths" or glandular thickening in the lips in autumn. Its back coat is dark brown with reddish tones. Its face and genitals are almost black. It has hairless ears. It has a short tail (23,7 to 4,8 cm) not protruding from the uropatagium (wing membrane joining tail and legs). The wings are short (forearm length 2.8 to 3.3 cm). It emits echolocation sounds at a frequency of 45 kHz.

Where does it live?

It is a cave and anthropophilic species. It uses fissures, cracks, wall joints, ceilings, shutters, roofs and boxes of blinds to live close to humans. In the natural environment, it also uses tree holes, rock fractures and tree nests. The winter shelters can be the same or they move to churches, mines, basements and caves not far from the breeding areas. It lives from sea level to 1500 meters above sea level.

How does it live?

It is a nocturnal and very generalist animal. It mainly hunts in urban areas, but also in forests, crops and meadows. It is one of the bats the most attracted by the light of street lamps. They only hunt small prey, especially flies, mosquitoes, lacewings and ephemerals. They are not able to catch larger or faster prey. Their flight is slow but they are able to do many somersaults. They are sedentary, although they can also travel about 100 km. Females are more gregarious than males, who usually live alone around the territory of their females’ harem. They hibernate, but they can also frequently be seen active, drinking or hunting in winter.

How does it reproduce?

Common pipistrelles go into heat at the end of summer. Males form harems with up to 10 females that they mate with. Offspring colonies are formed in spring, only by females; births occur in May. Each female gives birth to two offspring which are able to fly four weeks later. Females are sexually mature at the age of one year and males when they are two years old. The females are very philopatric (they tend to stay close to the colonies where they were born). Their lifespan is about 4 to 5 years, with a high death rate (80%) during their first year of life.

Where can we see it in Málaga?

It is a very common and widely extended species all over the province. We can find it on almost every stage of the Great Path (Gran Senda).

Curious facts

Bats from the Pipistrellus group belong to the Vespertilionidae family. Actually, "verpestile" and "pipistrelle" are the same thing: the first one in Italian and the second one in Latin. Dusk is called vesper in Latin. Evening excursions are the ones occurring at dusk. That is why bats from this group are called the "dusk animals".

Similar species

As they fly and at a glance all bat species are similar. They can only be distinguished by the ultrasound frequency they emit. It is very rare to observe them when they cling. The shape of the tragus, the snout or the size of the ears are the key factor to distinguish them. In the common pipistrelle, its small size and its fondness for the light of street lamps are the features that allow them to be distinguished without handling them.

Routes where it can be observed

More information