Bibliography of Bats of Neotropical Mesoamerica


Bats in mayan art

We provide a definition of Mesoamerica on our web site dedicated to Maya archaeology.

We provide a list of most of the bats of the Maya area in a FLAAR Report (pdf) which can be downloaded from our web site dedicated to Maya ethnozoology (

There is also an introductory FLAAR Report on bats.


Why the interest in bats of the Maya world here?


As a child I spent a lot of time exploring caves in the karst area of the Missouri Ozark Mountaints. We had a large family farm here, where we kids went every weekend. Our property is filled with caves, including many caves with springs. There is even a cenote within 100 meters of our house, just like in the karst area of the Maya world of Peten, Izabal, Alta Verapaz, Belize, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo.


Plus I have always enjoyed learning about animals. Since bats are frequently shown in the art and hieroglyphic inscriptions of Copan ruins of Honduras, and since bats are well known on polychrome Maya vases from the Chama area of the Maya Highlands of Guatemala, as an iconographer I have long recognized the importance of bats.

Here is bat which lives in the FLAAR gardens, Jos´┐Ż Octavio Cajas kindly suggested an identification as either Lasiurus ega o L. intermedius, of the family Vespertilionidae

So we have put together an introductory bibliography on bats of Mesoamerica in general and of the Maya area in particular. If you are doing a thesis or dissertation, you will easily find several hundred more articles and over a dozen monographs. But the list below will be plenty if you are just curious about bats of the Maya, or if you have a school assignment on bats of the Neotropics.

Here is another photograph of our friendly bat at FLAAR headquarters.

Suggested Reading, books and articles on Bats

Sorry, we skip novels and do not feature books with doubtful background in either bats or Maya culture. As with most people I have watched vampire movies as a child and even as an adult I enjoy an occasional Dracula movie. But we are so deep into the rain forests, swamps, and mountains of the Maya area that I do not have time to watch vampire soap operas (plus we do not even have a TV set where I live nor in our office).


So the books we list here are mostly on the biology of bats by biologists, or books on ethnography of Mayan speaking areas.


To find the bats in Chama vases, Google  Mayan bats Chama    A bibliography about bats in Maya art would be another late night and we are working on several hundred other creatures and over 500 utilitarian plants, so for today, here at least is a starting bibliography on the remarkable bats of Mesoamerica.


  • 1996
  • Bats – Biology and Behaviour
  • BARBOUR, R. W. and Davis, W. H.
  • 1969
  • Bats of America. University Press of Kentucky, Lexington.
  • Blaffer, Sarah C.
  • 1972
  • The Black Man of Zinacantán, A Central American Legend..Austin: University of Texas Press. (an ethnography, not a zoology, but I still want it)
  • BOOT, Eric
  • 2009
  • The Bat Sign in Maya Hieroglyphic Writing: Some Notes and Suggestions, Based on Examples on Late Classic Ceramics. 14 pages.
  • CRICHTON Elizabeth G. and Philip H. KRUTZSCH
  • 2000
  • Reproductive Biology of Bats. Academic Press. New York
  • FRENCH, Barbara
  • 1997
  • False Vampires and Other Carnivores: A glimpse at this select group of bats reveals efficient predators with a surprisingly gentle side. BATS Magazine, Vol. 15, No. 2.

  • Crichton, E.G. and Krutzsch, P.H.
  • 2000
  • Reproductive Biology of Bats. Academic Press, New York.
  • SCHMIDT-FRENCH Barbara A. and Carol A. BUTLER
  • 2009
  • Do Bats Drink Blood: Fascinating Answers to Questions about Bats (Animal Q&a Series) (Paperback - Aug 31, 2009)

    Peters’s wooly false vampire (Chrotopterus auritus) weighs between 72 and 90 grams (two and a half to three ounces) and ranges from southern Mexico to Paraguay and northern Argentina. This bat has a small wart in the center of the lower lip with a narrow elevation on either side. They roost in groups of one to seven bats and have been found roosting in caves, hollow trees, and even Mayan ruins. They eat everything from insects and fruit to mice, birds, lizards, frogs, opossums, and other bats. When filming this species for BCI’s documentary The Secret World of Bats, Merlin Tuttle was able to train one to come to his hand on call within just 30 minutes of catching it in a mist net in the rain forest.
  • Greenhall, A.
  • 1968
  • Notes on the behavior of the false vampire bat. Journal of Mammalogy, 49: 337-340.
  • Greenhall, A. M. and Schmidt, U.
  • 1988
  • Natural History of Vampire Bats. CRC Press, Boca Raton.
  • Griffin, D.R.
  • 1974
  • Listening in the Dark. Dover Books, New York.
  • Hamman, David
  • 2003
  • Vampyrum spectrum. Retrieved on 2012-12-29.
  • Hill, J.E. and Smith, James D.
  • 1948
  • Bats, A Natural History. University of Texas Press.
  • Kunz, Thomas H and Fenton, M. Brock
  • 2003
  • Bat Ecology. Chicago University Press
  • KUNZ, Thomas H. and Paul A. RACEY
  • 1998
  • Bat Biology and Conservation
  • Navarro L., Daniel and Don E. Wilson
  • 1982
  • Vampyrum spectrum. Mammalian Species, No. 184. The American Society of Mammalogists.
  • Paul Racey and Susan Swift
  • 1995
  • Ecology, Evolution, and Behaviour of Bats.
  • Neuweiler, G.
  • 2000
  • The Biology of Bats. Oxford University Press
  • Roots, Clive
  • 2006
  • Nocturnal Animals. Greenwood Guides to the Animal World. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  • WIMSATT, William
  • 1970.
  • Biology of Bats. Academic Presss. Volumen 1. 420 pages


Bats in Maya Art, Maya Myths

A complete bibliography on the ballgame would be easily 50 pages or more. So I here make no attempt; there are ten separate FLAAR publications on the ballgames.

  • Laughlin, Robert M.
  • 1980
  • The People of the Bat. Mayan tales and reams from Zinacantan. Smithsonian; 1ST edition. 282 pages.
  • SHOOK, Edwin M. and Elayne MARQUIS
  • 1996
  • Secrets in Stone: Yokes, Hachas and Palmas from Southern Mesoamerica. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.

    A useful and important compliation of yokes, hachas and palmas primarily from Guatemala and mostly from outside the Peten or adjacent Lowlands areas of Guatemala. In other words, most of thes ballgame accessories come from the Costa Sur (Tiquisate and nearby areas) or adjacent Highlands (Kaminaljuyu).

    Many of the hachas show birds, bats or mammals.

    Several of the photographs and line drawins were provided to the authors by Nicholas Hellmuth from the FLAAR Photo Archive.

Bats in the Maya stories of the Popol Vuh

  • N.D.
  • Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book
  • EDMONSON, Munro S.
  • 1971
  • The Book Of Counsel: The Popol Vuh Of The Quiche Maya Of Guatemala. Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, New Orleans.
  • GOETZ, Delia and Sylvanus G. MORLEY
  • 1950
  • Popol Vuh. The Sacred book of the Ancient Quiche Maya. University of Oklahoma Press. 267 pages.
  • TEDLOCK, Dennis
  • Popol Vuh


Researchers on bats

José Octavio Cajas, of Guatemala, has accomplished years of research and is a biologist focusing on bats whom we have communicated with. His sister is an archaeologist who did research at FLAAR for about two years.


Web sites
Bat Conservation International.
2007-8 Bats in Belize. URL:


Bat mailing list:

Jim Kennedy, NSS 26791FL, Cave Resources Specialist, Bat
Conservation International, Post Office Box 162603, Austin, TX 78716-2603
([email protected]),


First posted June 12, 2014