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Bent-winged Bats
   
   

Fig 1


Fig 2


Fig 3


Fig 4
 

Order : CHIROPTERA
Family : Vespertilionidae
Species : Miniopterus spp.

Forearm Length : species vary between 34 and 53 cm
Weight : species vary between 10 and 16 grams

Bent-winged or Long-fingered Bats are so called because of the relatively long terminal bone of the middle finger, compared to the middle bone. As a result, the end part of the wing is folded back and tucked underneath the rest of the wing when roosting.

 
 

Gomantong Cave, Sabah, Borneo : a typical roosting place for colonies of Bent-winged Bats and other species.
 

The true number of species of Miniopterus bats is unclear, but at least 11 are generally agreed to exist. There are great similarities between all species, which are often distinguished only on the basis of forearm length and weight. Identification of species on the basis of photographs alone is not possible.

In all species the fur is thick and generally brown-black to brown, or sometimes reddish. The ears are relatively small and rounded, and the eyes small.

Many bent-winged bat species roost in large colonies in caves : these bats may become spectacularly abundant in tropical rainforests where karst limestone habitats provide cave systems for roosting. For example in parts of Borneo there are colonies of over 100,000 bats. These colonies are well organised : it is known that thousands of juveniles may be left together by night under the care of a few females while their parents are out foraging for food. They feed on flying insects, particularly moths, high in the forest canopy.

Some species are wide-ranging across Southeast Asia,  New Guinea and beyond. The Common Bent-winged Bat Miniopterus schreibersi has a range that extends from parts of Africa, across southern Europe and Asia to Australia and Oceania. The range of elevations is also large : in New Guinea some species occur up to 3200 metres above sea level.


Figs 1 to 4 : This species is probably the Western Bent-winged Bat Miniopterus magnater.  All photos are from Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea, in lower montane forest at 1920 metres. 


References : M1, M2, M3, M4


Thanks to Frank J. Bonaccorso for assistance.