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



Tube-nosed Fruit Bats

Fig 1

Fig 2

Family : Pteropodidae
Species : Nyctimene & Paranyctimene spp.

Forearm Length : up to 8.8 cm (e.g. N. aello & N. major)
Weight : up to 100 grams (e.g. N. aello & N. major)

Tube-nosed fruit bats occur in a wide range of habitats including lowland primary and secondary forest, hill and montane forest, swamp forest, agricultural areas and Melaleuca savannah. However, they are most common in moist, lowland habitats.

As of 2020, 19 species are recognised of which 13 occur within eastern parts of Southeast Asia, including the central Philippines, Sulawesi, eastern Indonesia and western New Guinea. They are absent from Borneo. Other species range further east to the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands in the western Pacific Ocean, and north-east Australia.

Nyctimene (and Paranyctimene) bats possess elongated, Y-shaped, tubular nostrils which measure up to 6 mm in length and which splay obliquely from the front of the snout: the angle between the two nostrils is greater than 90 degrees.

Most species have coarsely mottled, yellow and brown wings, ears and nose which acts as excellent camouflage when roosting. Most have a dark mid-dorsal stripe, either narrow or broad. Their fur, which may be woolly in montane species, is buffy grey, brown or yellow-brown above, and pale below. They have short, naked tails typically around 2 cm in length.

Their diet comprises mainly figs, but a variety of small fruits may also be consumed. Small insects attracted to ripe fruits are sometimes incidentally consumed. Typically the choicest fruit or fig is selected after dusk, and is carried off to a favoured feeding roost away from other bats (
Bonaccorso, 1998).

By day these bats roost unseen amongst living foliage, and most appear quite solitary in habits.
Females bear a solitary young: data from Papua New Guinea suggests they may give birth twice a year (
Bonaccorso, 1998).

Nyctimene albiventer is one of the commonest species (see Figure 1): it occurs in eastern Indonesia (Halmahera, Waigeo and nearby islands), New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. The variety of forms and wide geographic and altitudinal range of this species, which occurs in lowlands and montane habitats up to 1900 metres elevation, probably indicates a species complex (IUCN, 2019).

Fig 1 : Common Tube-nosed Fruit Bat Nyctimene albiventer from Southern Highlands province, Papua New Guinea from lower montane forest at 1300 metres elevation. This rescued bat was found wet, cold and disoriented.

Fig 2 : Lower montane forest in central New Guinea: the bat in Figure 1 was from this area.

Fig 3 : Eastern Tube-nosed Fruit Bat (Nyctimene robinsoni) from eastern Australia. Note the yellow spots on the ears and wings, and the narrow, dark vertebral line.  Photo thanks to Alan Wynn.

References : M4


Fig 3
ゥ  Alan Wynn

Fig 3 by Alan Wynn is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0 Generic licence.