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







Malayan Slit-faced Bat

Family : Nycteridae
Species : Nycteris tragata

Forearm Length : up to 5.5 cm
Tail : up to 7.2 cm
Weight : up to 22 grams

Nycteris tragata, or Malayan Slit-faced Bat, (also called Hollow-faced Bat), inhabits lowland primary forest, hill and montane forest, and peat swamp forest. Known roosts include hollowed-out fallen trees, rock crevices, caves and man-made culverts. Roosts typically comprise small groups.

The diet of this medium-sized bat comprises large insects, such as moths and crickets: rather than catch insects on the wing, it plucks or 'gleans' them from surfaces including the ground. It probably locates such prey by passively listening for faint noises.

Its fur is rich brown to light brown, with paler bases, and is long and woolly in texture. Its ears are long, rounded and forward facing. Its simple 'noseleaf' comprises parallel skin flaps on either side of a depressed groove that extends from the nose to between the eyes.

Its tail is long with a 'T' or 'Y' shaped cartilaginous tip, and this is fully enclosed in the interfemoral membrane that stretches between its two legs. When roosting, this membrane folds over and droops between its legs. Its wings are broad and relatively short, which allows for highly maneuverable flight.

This species occurs in southern Myanmar, southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore (where it is extremely rare), Borneo and Sumatra. 

One other closely-related species of slit-faced bat occurs in Southeast Asia, namely Nycteris javanica, which occurs in Java and the Kangean Islands of Indonesia. At least 10 other Nycteris species occur in Africa.

Figs 1 and 2 : Example from a roost of 3 bats in lowland forest in southern Peninsular Malaysia. The T-shaped cartilage at the tip of the tail membrane can clearly be seen in Figure 1.

Fig 3 : Example from lowland, primary forest at Endau-Rompin National Park, Peninsular Malaysia, found roosting in a road culvert along a rough track. This posture illustrates how broad the wings are, compared to other bats of similar body size.

Fig 4 : View of Sungai Endau, close to where the bat in Figure 3 was encountered.

References : M5, M6


Fig 1

ゥ  Noel Thomas / Nick Baker

Fig 2

ゥ  Noel Thomas / Nick Baker

Fig 3

Fig 4