A relatively small bat, the Muscat mouse-tailed bat’s distinguishing feature is its long, slender, mouse-like tail, which can comprise up to half of its total length and gives the species its common name (2)(3). The Muscat mouse-tailed bat has a hairless face with a small noseleaf on the end of the snout (2), and large ears, which are connected across the forehead (2)(3). Much of the bat’s body is covered with soft fur, which is grey-brown or dark brown on its back and paler on the belly, but the rump and lower abdomen are hairless (3).
In flight, the Muscat mouse-tailed bat is easily recognisable due to its distinctive and unusual flying pattern in which it performs a series of glides punctuated with occasional fluttering. This technique makes it rise and fall in flight, resembling many species of small bird (2).
Little is known about the ecology of the Muscat mouse-tailed bat, as it has been the subject of relatively few studies (4)(5). However, this species is known to roost in caves, holes and undisturbed buildings, in colonies comprising thousands of individuals (3)(5). It feeds on insects and, like most bats, hunts using echolocation(5).
While details on the breeding biology of the Muscat mouse-tailed bat are sparse, pregnant females have been found in June and July in Oman, and lactating females were found in August and September. Like other Rhinopoma species, female Muscat mouse-tailed bats probably give birth to a single young at a time (6).
The Muscat mouse-tailed bat ranges from the south-eastern Arabian Peninsula to Southwest Asia (4) occurring in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (1). Rhinopoma muscatellum seianum is a subspecies found only in a small region on the Afghan-Iran border (2).
The Muscat mouse-tailed bat is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction due to its relatively wide distribution and tolerance of a broad range of habitats (1). It appears to be a very common bat in certain areas (5)(7), such as in the United Arab Emirates, where it is the most common insect-eating bat (4).
However, there is some concern that in certain areas this bat may be affected when old buildings are demolished and holes in cliffs are sealed for safety reasons, destroying suitable roosting sites (5)(8). Furthermore, rapid growth in human populations and ongoing urban development is causing widespread degradation of the natural environment in many parts of the Muscat mouse-tailed bat’s range (9). Consequently, in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, this species is considered to be vulnerable to extinction (8).
Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2009) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, London.
Dubai Natural History Group (2010) Field clips and reports. Gazelle, 25(2): 4-7.
Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
Drew, C.R., Al Dhaheri, S.S., Barcelo, I. and Tourenq, C. (2005) The Terrestrial Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians of the UAE – Species List and Status Report. Terrestrial Environment Research Centre, Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency, Abu Dhabi. Available at: http://www.uaebirding.com/Resources/Mammals,reptiles_and_amphib.pdf
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