Ageing studies on bats: a review

Biogerontology. 2004;5(4):211-22. doi: 10.1023/B:BGEN.0000038022.65024.d8.


Bat biologists have long known about the exceptional longevity of bats (Order: Chiroptera), which is unusual for mammals of such a small size and a high metabolic rate. Yet relatively few mechanistic studies have focused on this longevity. On average, species of Chiroptera live three times longer than predicted by their body size. In addition, bats have other life history traits that are characteristic of large, long-lived mammals such as few and large offspring and slow growth rates. Bats fit the evolutionary theory of ageing, as their extended longevity is predicted by their ability to escape extrinsic mortality through flight and, in some species, hibernation. They also show tradeoffs between longevity and reproduction, as predicted by the disposable soma theory of ageing. From a physiological perspective, bat longevity reportedly correlates with replicative longevity, low brain calpain activity, and reduced reactive oxygen species production. As long-lived and physiologically interesting organisms, bats may prove to be an informative model system for ageing research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Chiroptera / classification
  • Chiroptera / metabolism*
  • Hibernation / physiology
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Reproduction / physiology


  • Reactive Oxygen Species