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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2023



Naked Bulldog Bat

Family : Molossidae
Species : Cheiromeles torquatus

Forearm Length : up to 9.0 cm
Weight : up to 196 grams

The Naked Bulldog Bat (or Greater Naked Bat) is the largest insectivorous bat in the world. The species may potentially occur in a variety of lowland habitats, but its local distribution may be severely constrained by the availability of suitable roosts. The species appears to be getting more rare, and generally lacks adequate protection.

The species typically roosts in rock crevices, caves or tall, hollow trees. Numbers in a roost may range from less than 10 up to 1000. They feed on medium-sized winged insects which they hawk in open areas, or above the forest canopy.

Their most obvious feature is their dark grey to black skin which is largely devoid of body fur, except for a localised patch on the throat.

The head is dog-like in shape, and the jaws possess enlarged upper and lower canine teeth. The ears are triangular, forward facing and are lobed at the front.

The wings are long and narrow, and there are wing pouches into which the folded wings can be neatly tucked. The tail is thick and is not enclosed in the flight membrane. The feet are large with long claws. Curiously, the first toe on each hind foot has a bristle of hairs, the tips of which are curved and which are believed to be used for grooming.

Unusually for bats, this species has a throat pouch from which strong-smelling, oily, glandular secretions are released.

The Naked Bulldog Bat occurs in southern  Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Java, Borneo and the Philippines (Palawan).  A closely related but smaller, dark brown species, the Lesser Bulldog Bat Cheiromeles parvidens, occurs in parts of Sulawesi and much of the Philippines (except Palawan).

Fig 1 : A male specimen assumes a typical downward-facing posture before launching itself into flight.

Fig 2 : A female reverses up a tree trunk in order to gain sufficient height to launch herself into the night.

Fig 3 : Side-view of the head of a female illustrating its dog-like profile.

Fig 4 : Close-up of the hind foot of a female showing the curved bristles on the first toe.

All photos from Singapore.  All photos thanks to Leong Tzi Ming.

References : M3, M5

Leong, T. M., S. C. Teo & K. K. P. Lim, 2009. The Naked Bulldog Bat, Cheiromeles torquatus in Singapore past and present records, with highlights on its unique morphology (Microchiroptera: Molossidae). Nature in Singapore, 2: 215230.


Fig 1

ゥ  Leong Tzi Ming

Fig 2

ゥ  Leong Tzi Ming

Fig 3

ゥ  Leong Tzi Ming

Fig 4

ゥ  Leong Tzi Ming