Gilded groove-toothed bat (Phoniscus atrox)

Synonyms: Kerivoula atrox
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderChiroptera
FamilyVespertilionidae
GenusPhoniscus (1)
SizeHead-and-body length: 40 – 41 mm (2)
Tail length: 35 – 40 mm (2)
Forearm length: 35 – 35.5 mm (2)
Weight5.4 – 5.9 g (2)

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

A highly recognisable bat, due to its small size combined with exquisitely coloured fur. The hairs are long, soft and fluffy, and on the back and head, they are tipped with a shimmering golden colour, giving a gilded appearance. The base of each hair is light brown to black, and on the underside of the body the fur is paler. Golden hairs are also found along the forearm, the wing edges, the legs, tail and feet. The nose of the gilded groove-toothed bat is simple, with no noseleaf, and the ears are small and brown, but contain a pointed, whitish tragus (inner ear), which has a characteristic notch at the base. A tiny groove in each canine tooth of this species contributes to its common name. A membrane that stretches between the hind legs, known as the interfemoral membrane, encloses the tail (2).

The gilded groove-toothed bat is found in southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra (3).

This highly manoeuvrable bat occupies the densely vegetated understorey of primary lowland dipterocarp forest, and whilst its roosting habits are poorly understood, it has been found roosting in an unoccupied bird’s nest (2).

With a small body and short, rounded wings, the gilded groove-toothed bat has a high degree of flight control, enabling it to pass nimbly amongst the leaves and branches of the forest. It feeds on flying insects, detecting their presence with ultrasonic shouts and listening for the returning echo. As it approaches the insect the speed of its echolocation pulses quickens, to give pinpoint precision for the capture of its prey (2).

Little is known about the breeding habits of this species, but pregnancy has been recorded in April, August and October, and lactation has been noted in January, May, June and October (2).

The rapid increase in land devoted to growing oil palm has resulted in extensive loss of primary forest. Together, Malaysia and Indonesia export 88 percent of the world’s palm oil, for use in products such as margarine, lipstick and detergent. Deforestation continues at a steady rate for conversion to agricultural land and building communities, and despite the contribution of many bats in the control of insect crop pests, persecution of bats is also a threat (4).

Deforestation of primary forest for oil palm plantations, including within protected areas, is an issue of major concern and one that relies on both governmental action and consumer concern. Some large retailers have agreed, in collaboration with the WWF, to source products containing palm oil from plantations that are not on deforested land (4). Many scientific and charitable groups contribute to bat monitoring and local education programmes that can help to reduce persecution and raise awareness of the natural assets of the land (5).

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2009)
    http://www.iuncredlist.org
  2. Kingston, T. (2005) Pers. comm.
  3. Nor, S. (1996) The Mammalian Fauna on the islands at the Nortern Tip of Sabah, Borneo. Fieldiana – Zoology, 83: 17 - 28.
  4. Europa World (January, 2005)
    http://www.europaworld.org/issue66/swisspalm25102.htm
  5. Maltby, A. (2005) Pers. comm.