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Bamboo Bats
   
   

Fig 1


Fig 2
 

Fig 3


Fig 4
 

Fig 5

 

Order : CHIROPTERA
Family : Vespertilionidae
Species :
Tylonycteris spp.

Forearm Length : up to 3.0 cm
Weight : up to 9 grams

Bamboo Bats (or 'Club-footed Bats') are so-called because they roost by day inside the stems (or 'culms') of various bamboo species.

Many such roosting sites are created by the activities of a species of leaf beetle Lasiochila goryi which, after emergence from pupation, cuts a narrow vertical slit in order to escape confinement within the bamboo stem. Larger roosting sites may naturally occur in dead or dying bamboo stems. Occasionally both species may roost in the same bamboo clump, but rarely in the same cavity. 

There are two species of bamboo bat : the Greater Bamboo Bat Tylonycteris robustula and the Lesser Bamboo Bat T. pachypus. Both species have a markedly flattened skull to allow them access to their roost. The thumbs and soles of the feet have fleshy pads which give a firm foothold inside the bamboo.

Remarkably these bats are able to squeeze through slits as narrow as 4-8 mm. Roosting sites are thus largely inaccessible to predators, though an instance of predation by a Paradise Tree Snake Chrysopelea paradisi was documented in Singapore by Chan Kwok Wai.

Reportedly the bats can fly straight through the  slit-shaped opening without pausing, though whether this is true or not is unclear.

Fur colour is variable : the Greater Bamboo Bat is medium to dark brownish overall, and the Lesser Bamboo Bat tends to be more pale brown on top, and orange underneath. The species are most easily distinguished on the basis of size.

Bamboo bats inhabit forested areas, and forage at night for flying insects, particularly termite swarms.

Both species of bamboo bat have a similar range which includes parts of northern India and southern China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and parts of western Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi) and the Philippines.
 

Figs 1 and 2 : A bamboo bat roosting inside the stem of the bamboo Schizostachyum brachycladum. In this specimen from Singapore (species uncertain) the fur is medium brown.

Figs 3, 4 and 5 : A specimen (species uncertain) with greyish brown fur, which is more pale around the collar and upper chest. This specimen, again from Singapore, was active in a sparsely wooded area adjacent to secondary forest.


References : M1, M2, M3, M6