This species is the largest bat (Chiroptera) in the New World and the largest carnivorous bat in the world, having a wingspan of 80 cm or so (almost 3 feet) and a body length and weight of 125-35 mm and 145-190 grams respectively, though larger specimens with wingspans of over 100 cm are not unknown. The fur on the upper parts of the bat is normally dark brown, chestnut brown or rust-orange and quite short. The ears are very long and rounded. There is no discernible tail, but the tail membrane is long and broad. The large feet are robust, with long curved claws. The muzzle is long and narrow, and the teeth are strong. The Noseleaf is medium-sized, lance-shaped, horseshoe and spear with continuous rim raised to form a hollow cup around the nostrils. Underparts are usually pale, dirty gray-brown to yellow-brown - the fur is much shorter than on the back.
A formidable aerial night hunter, this large predatory species takes a huge range of relativly large vertebrate prey including amphibians, reptiles, small birds and small mammals (including other species of bats). Insects are also included, especially large crickets, cicadas etc.
When hunting, this species is extremely stealthy. It will often pounce from a position on an above branch onto its prey or fly like some owls by patrolling back and forth along forest edges, suddenly dropping on something in the grass. One young or pup is produced each year, and the mother is very attentive and gentle with her offspring. The male is always in attendance too and will frequently sleep with both mother and young completely wrapped in his wings.