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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Cave Nectar Bat

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5

Fig 6

Fig 7

Fig 8

Fig 9

Fig 10




Family : Pteropodidae
Species : Eonycteris spelaea

Forearm Length : up to 7.0 cm
Weight : up to 60 grams

Eonycteris spelaea (Dawn Bat, Cave Nectar Bat, Common Nectar Bat) has a wide distribution; within Southeast Asia it is known to occur throughout the region, but appears less widespread in Borneo. The species maintains a foothold in Singapore, where it is locally classified as 'vulnerable'; a long-term ecological and population study is sorely needed.

IUCN (2020) state the following: "Its global population is declining due to extensive disturbance in its roosts from hunting, mining, and numerous other threats; a lack of consistent monitoring makes accurate population estimates difficult."

Eonycteris spelaea roosts in large, noisy colonies of hundreds or thousands of individuals. They are known to fly many kilometres each night in search of the nectar of flowering trees and shrubs. The species is an important pollinator of fruit trees including banana and durian, as well as forest products including Petai (Parkia speciosa).

Their dorsal fur is greyish-brown, and the ventral fur is medium grey.  Around the neck the fur can be tinged yellowish-brown. The muzzle is dog-like in shape, and its tongue is long and probing.

In Singapore they tend to roost beneath man-made structures such as flyovers near forested areas; this makes them highly vulnerable to disturbance. Their natural roosts may have been destroyed during development. On some parts of the island they may be observed feeding on nectar and pollen on wayside trees, such as Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus), as well as Petai (see Figs 1 and 2).

Figs 1 and 2 : Feeding on nectar from the distinctive flowers of Petai (Parkia speciosa), Singapore.

Figs 3 and 4 : Feeding on the nectar and/or pollen of flowers of the Sea Apple tree (Syzygium grande) at Tanjong Jara, Terengganu, Peninsular Malaysia.

Figs 5 to 7 : Attracted to nectar-rich flowers of banana plants in Singapore.

Fig 8 : This roost in Singapore has around 500 bats.

Figs 9 and 10 : A lone Cave Nectar Bat is attracted to the flowers of Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) in Singapore: this tree is a native of Australia but is sometimes planted as an ornamental, roadside tree in other countries.

References : M1, M2