Vertebrate fauna of SE Asia


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








Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5


Family : Pteropodidae
Species : Rousettus spp.

Forearm Length : up to ~9 cm
Weight : up to ~100 grams

Rousettes are a small group of fruit bat of which there are ten species worldwide, with six occurring within Southeast Asia. They are typically encountered in forest-edge habitats, cultivated clearings and fruit orchards. Their diet includes a wide variety of nectar, pollen and soft fruits. 

These bats are of 'medium' size, being larger than Cynopterus fruit bats, such as the Lesser Dog-faced Fruit Bat, but considerably smaller than Pteropus flying foxes, such as the Island Flying Fox.

Rousettes are distinguished from other related fruits bats by their size, by the shape of the muzzle, which is elongated, and by the presence of a well developed tail. They produce an audible, rapid clicking sound by which they are able to echolate.

Within Southeast Asia two species are wide-ranging, occurring both on the mainland and islands of the malay archipelago: these are Leschenault's Rousette (Rousettus leschenaultii) and Geoffroy's Rousette (Rousettus amplexicaudatus), with the range of the latter extending eastwards to New Guinea.

The four other species occurring within Southeast Asia do not occur on the mainland: the Bare-backed Rousette (Rousettus spinalatus) occurs on Sumatra and Borneo, whilst the other three species are endemic to the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Presented hear are images of a small group of rousette from Phuket, southern Thailand, feeding on ripe banana : these are either Geoffroy's Rousette or Leschenault's Rousette. Both species are known to roost in large numbers in caves and to travel many kilometres to feed.

Figs 1 to 5 : Rousettes feeding on cultivated ripe bananas in a forest clearing at Phuket, southern Thailand: up to 8 individuals were observed feeding around 2 hours after dusk. These bats are either Rousettus leschenaultii or Rousettus amplexicaudatus.

Note the long fur around the chin in Fig. 4 : this is typical of rousettes. The well-developed tail is visible in Fig. 5.

Links :

Baker, N. (2016). Rousettus sp. feeding on ripe bananas at Phuket, southern Thailand. Southeast Asia Vertebrate Records. 2016 : 113-116. [pdf]

References : M5