Friday, February 25, 2011

Species of the Month - the Lesser dawn fruit bat

Eonycteris spelaea
Lesser dawn fruit bat or long-tongued dawn fruit bat

Order:  Chipotera, Family Pteropodidae

Eonycteris spelaea or the Lesser dawn fruit bat or long-tongued dawn fruit bat is a tiny fellow with a wing span of only 6 to 8 cm.  It has large eyes, and small, simple ears. The muzzle is narrow and the tongue long and extendable.

The lesser dawn fruit bat is found throughout most of south Asia, including the forests of Taman Negeri Selangor.

Lesser dawn fruit bats are gregarious, roosting during the day in the high ceilings of caves in colonies numbering from a dozen to over ten thousand individuals. The roosting colony is divided into sexually segregated clusters. This species may share the roost with other bat species.

This species is nocturnal and will often travel 20 to 40 km from their day roosts to the night flowering trees where they feed. Lesser dawn fruit bats forage in flocks. Feeding occurs between 1900 and 0200 hours.

Diet consists primarily of the nectar and pollen of night flowering plant species and are generalists that have been documented feeding on over 31 plant species. They enjoy durian fruit nectar and pollen, and it is suggested that they are the among the most important pollinators of this economically important fruit - which add hundreds of millions of ringgit to the Southeast Asian economy annually.

A behavior unique to E. spelaea is the production of wing-clapping sounds during movement in dark situations. This is thought to be a primitive form of echolocation that aids orientation, or simply a product of slowed flight which may reduce the force with which bats collide with other objects in dark caves.

Lesser dawn fruit bats are thought to be polygynous with single males mating with multiple females. Breeding intervals are unknown, but females may breed up to twice each year.  After a gestation period of 3 – 6 months, the female will give birth to 1 to 2 young.  The young are weaned after 3 months, and reach sexual maturity in 6 to 12 months for females, and 1 – 2 years for males.

It is not known how long the Lesser dawn fruit bat can live in the wild.  The longest  lifespan of other fruit bats, in captivity include straw-colored fruit bats (Eidolon helvum), 21.8 years; flying foxes (Pteropus), 31.4 years; and rousette fruit bats (Rousettus), 22.9 years.

Conservation of the species

Lucky for the Lesser dawn fruit bat, it is considered of lower risk concern by the IUCN.  But the threats to the species include loss and degradation of forest habitat, hunting and human disturbance.  

The undisturbed forests of Taman Negeri Selangor are so important for the survival of wild creatures like the Lesser dawn fruit bat as well as for the survival us human beings, too.  

For More Information, please visit:

The very excellent website of   University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s website Animal Diversity  Most of the information and both the photos were extracted from this site.  Thank you UMMZ!

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