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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2020

 
 
     
   
   

 

   
   
 
Lesser Long-tongued Nectar Bat
   
   

Fig 1
  

Fig 2
  

Fig 3
  

 

 

 

 

 

Order : CHIROPTERA
Family : Pteropodidae
Species : Macroglossus minimus

Forearm Length : up to 4.4 cm
Weight : up to 18 grams

Macroglossus minimus is a small, nectar-feeding bat which occurs in a broad range of wooded or disturbed, rural habitats. They particularly favour mangrove, where they feed on the nectar of blossoms of Sonneratia trees, and in doing so play an important role as pollinators which thereby contributes to forest regrowth in such habitats.

In other forest habitats they favour the flowers of wild banana trees, and in rural areas they favour cultivated banana trees. They are also known to visit the flowers of durian, coconut and jambu (Syzygium samarangense) (Phillipps & Phillipps, 2015). By day, they roost alone or in small groups, typically beneath large palm leaves.

There are two species of bat in the genus Macroglossus, and this is the smaller of the two. The other species is the closely-related Greater Long-tongued Nectar Bat Macroglossus sobrinus.

Macroglossus minimus is known by a number of common names: in Australia, it is called the 'Northern Blossom Bat' and, internationally, IUCN prefer the less attractive name of 'Dagger-toothed Long-nosed Fruit Bat'. However, the name 'Lesser Long-tongued Nectar Bat' is widely used in Southeast Asia (e.g. Francis, 2008).

'Macroglossus' means 'large-tongued' - this refers to their long, slender, tongue which has evolved to probe deep inside flowers in search of nectar. They also have a slender, elongate muzzle and teeth which are much reduced in size, apart from the canines which are narrow and sharply pointed.

Macroglossus minimus has light brown fur, which is paler on the underside, and dark brown wings. They have a distinctive groove on the upper lip between the nostrils: this feature can be used to distinguish the species from its larger cousin which lacks such a feature.

Macroglossus minimus has a broad distribution, and is known to occur in Thailand, Cambodia, southern Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, most of Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, Timor-Leste, the western Pacific (i.e. Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands), and in northern Australia.



Fig 1 : Example from the coastal town of Muar in the state of Johor, Peninsular Malaysia. This bat is taking a break between feeding sessions on a nearby Sonneratia tree in back-mangrove. Note the presence of a fine dusting of pollen on the snout and ears.

Fig 2 : Sonneratia blooms in back-mangrove: a number of Macroglossus minimus were seen feeding briefly on these flowers.

Fig 3 : When in bloom, this tall Sonneratia tree is visited nightly by Macroglossus minimus.
 

References : M3, M5, M12

IUCN