Griffin's leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros griffini)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderChiroptera
FamilyHipposideridae
GenusHipposideros (1)
SizeForearm length: 8.3 - 9 cm (1)
Top facts

Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat has yet to be classified by the IUCN.

First described as recently as 2012, Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros griffini) is an unusual-looking bat species with an elaborate outgrowth of skin on its nose (1). Known as a noseleaf, this peculiar structure consists of several fleshy parts (1) and may aid in echolocation (2) (3).

The fur of Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat ranges from brown to grey, with the fur on the underside of the body being slightly paler (1). This species has relatively small eyes, and its ears are quite large and lack a tragus (2) (3). The ears are triangular in shape and have bluntly pointed tips (1). The male Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat is slightly smaller than the female (1), and also differs in possessing a well-developed fleshy outgrowth and a ‘sexual sac’ behind the noseleaf. This sac is enlarged during the breeding season and secretes a waxy substance (1) (2).

Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat is a particularly large Hipposideros species (1), and can be distinguished from other members of the genus within its range by a combination of its body size, noseleaf structure and echolocation calls (1) (4). Although similar in appearance to the closely related great Himalayan leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros armiger), Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat is smaller and has distinctly higher-pitched echolocation calls (1).

It was the frequency of its calls that first suggested to scientists that Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat was a distinct species, and it was named after the late Professor Donald Griffin in recognition of his contributions to bat echolocation research (1).

Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat was discovered in Vietnam, where it was originally known only from Cat Ba Island in northern Vietnam and Chu Mom Ray National Park on the mainland, around 1,000 kilometres to the south (1).

Since its initial discovery, Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat has also been found in Cat Tien National Park in southern Vietnam, suggesting that the species has a more widespread distribution than first thought (4).

Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat has been recorded in a variety of habitats, including both disturbed and primary forest. It has been found in lowlands as well as in mountainous and karst areas (1) (4).

Little information is currently available on the biology of this newly discovered bat. However, male Griffin’s leaf-nosed bats have been recorded in breeding condition in August at Chu Mom Ray National Park (1).

In general, other members of the Hipposideros genus roost in hollow trees, caves or buildings. Some species are gregarious, occurring in large colonies, but others may be found alone or in small groups. Like other Hipposideros species, Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat is likely to fly lower than most bats, and to feed on a variety of insects, such as beetles, termites, cockroaches and cicadas (2) (3).

Unlike many other bats, which emit their echolocation calls from the mouth, members of the Hipposideridae family (the Old World leaf-nosed bats) keep their mouth closed during flight, instead emitting the ultrasonic calls through their nostrils (2) (3). The calls are then focused by the complex structure of the noseleaf (3).

Very little is currently known about any potential threats to Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat. Although this species was originally recorded in just two widely separated locations, more recent studies suggest it may have a more extensive distribution than first thought (4).

There are no specific conservation measures currently known to be in place for this odd-looking bat. However, the three locations in which Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat has so far been recorded are all national parks, which may offer this species some protection (1) (4).

Further studies are needed to determine the extent of the distribution of Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat, and to investigate whether it occurs in neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Thailand (1).

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  1. Thong, V.D., Puechmaille, S.J., Denzinger, A., Dietz, C., Csorba, G., Bates, P.J.J., Teeling, E.C. and Schnitzler, H.-U. (2012) A new species of Hipposideros (Chiroptera: Hipposideridae) from Vietnam. Journal of Mammalogy, 93(1): 1-11.
  2. Nowak, R.M. (1991) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  3. Vaughan, T.A., Ryan, J.M. and Czaplewski, N.J. (2011) Mammalogy. Fifth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, Massachusetts.
  4. Thong, V.D. (2012) New records of Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros griffini Thong et al. 2012) from Vietnam. Vietnam Journal of Biology, 34(3): 323-327.