Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bats of Haiti

This fall 2011 in Haiti I will start teaching about bats in addition to birds. There are 15 extant and 2 extinct species of bats in Haiti. I’m not finding much information about them, so am using this post to keep track of what I do find. If you have any suggestions please post a comment! Wordless resources or those in French or Creole would be most useful. I would especially like to find inexpensive prints of this poster (or donations of them) -

Caribbean conservation groups

Bat Conservation International -

Cayman Wildlife Connection -

Anecdotal information
  • The Haitians have many names for bats, all a variation of chovsourit which literally means old mouse. Many people believe that old mice metamorphose into bats. Variations – chòchòl, chovsourit, chatsouri, chatsourit, chichòt, chòdchòd, chòdchòt, chòfsourit, chòtchòt, chouchòl, chouchwòl, chòvsouri, chòvsourit, chwètchwèt, sovsouri, tchotchorit, tchòtchòt (Freeman Haitian-English Dictionary 2011). Baby bats would be called 'ti chòchòl' or 'pitit chòchòl' to emphasize that it is the offspring of the bats.
  • I think some of the Haitians thought the cave swallows (irondel) were bats.
  • Here’s a photo of man who collects and sells bat guano from a nearby cave that he owns.

Educational materials


Klingener, D.K., H.H. Genoways, and R.J. Baker. 1978. Bats from Southern Haiti. Annals of Carnegie Museum. 47:88–99.

Woods & Ottenwalder 1992. The Natural History of Southern Haiti. FL Museum of Nat. History., Univ. FL.


  1. I would try to emphasize the ecosystem functions of bats, including insectivory, pollination, and seed dispersal. Cartoon illustrations could work for this, but Bat Conservation International and the American Society of Mammalogists have photo libraries that may be of use. I'm not totally clear on their policies, but given the nature of your work, you might be able to get photos for free. I am a member of both organizations, so please let me know if I can be of help as you try to collect materials.

  2. Some colleagues and I recently began a project to study bats on St. Kitts with Ross University Veterinary School. You can find the Ross University Bat Project's facebook page if you want to read about the development of this project.

    The common bats in the Caribbean can be found on all islands - except for those that are isolated by large distances of open ocean.
    Many bat species in the Caribbean are rare and there are several that only occur on a few islands. These will be different for St. Kitts and Haiti.
    Of all of the bats in St. Kitts, there are only two that are often noticed by people. These two bats should also be the same species that are often seen by people on Haiti.

    1. The Jamaican Fruit Bat is about the size of a human fist, but when it opens its wings it becomes over 2' wide. This bat enjoys feeding on ripe fruit like figs and mango that are often grown near houses. When fruit is in season, these bats will be seen flying around the trees. All bats are shy, but the Jamaican Fruit Bat is not as shy as the others. It will quickly move into a house that is vacant if a door or window is left open.

    2. The Velvety Free-tailed Bat is not often seen up close by people, but it can be observed flying around every neighborhood feeding on insects at dusk. It is actually only the size of a man's thumb. Its long, slender wings can reach 18" so it looks much larger in flight. It is adept at crawling though very small holes in houses to roost in the attic.

    H.H Genoways, who you have listed on literature from 1978 is still involved in identifying Caribbean bat species. He should be able to tell you about any recent research.
    This is the contact information that I have for him: Hugh H. Genoways []

  3. Hi Debbie
    I would like to get in contact with you.
    I am doing a project i n PoP soon an would like to discuss som common interests.. =D

  4. Hello Anonymous - you can email me at

  5. Good morning, I am curious if putting up bat houses in Haiti could help to fight the mosquito population and in turn help to fight malaria there. Any thoughts?

    1. As a missionary in Haiti I just thought of this idea and have decided to try building a few bat houses of various sizes to see what works. Malaria, dengue fever, elephantitis, typhoid, all are carried by bats.

      Tom in Verrettes