Naked-rumped tomb bat (Taphozous nudiventris)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderChiroptera
FamilyEmballonuridae
GenusTaphozous (1)
SizeHead-body length: 11.2 – 13.6 cm (2)
Tail length: 2.2 – 3.4 cm (2)
Forearm: 2.6 – 2.9 cm (2)

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

One of the most striking features of this insect-eating bat is the lack of fur on its front and lower back. This characteristic lends the naked-rumped tomb bat both its common name and its scientific name, nudiventris, which comes from the Latin for ‘naked belly’. The muzzle, chin and sides of the face are also furless (3). Where fur is present, it is brown to greyin colour on the back of the body and light grey on the front (3). The naked-rumped tomb bat is one of the largest members of the genus Taphozous and can also be distinguished from the other species by its long and narrow, blunt-tipped ears (3). Male naked-rumped tomb bats are bigger than females and possess a gland on the upper part of the chest, thought to have a role in marking territory (3).

The naked-rumped tomb bat has a wide range that extends from Morocco, across northern Africa to Egypt, and north through the Middle East to southern Turkey. It may also be found in the more arid areas of the Indian subcontinent (1).

This species occupies a wide range of habitats, from arid and semi-arid regions to tropical forests and wet evergreen forests (2).

The naked-rumped tomb bat is insectivorous, feeding on a variety of beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches, moths and winged termites (1). Using echolocation in order to navigate and to hunt prey, it often forages around large water bodies where there is an abundance of insects (1). This bat is known to travel long distances from roosting to feeding sites, displaying a high, fast and direct style of flight (3).

The naked-rumped tomb bat roosts in colonies in a variety of locations including crevices in cliffs, rocks and caves, old ruins, wells, mosques, barns, houses, underground tunnels and, as its name suggests, tombs (1) (3) (4). Colonies in Africa and the Mediterranean region are generally restricted to a few individuals, although large colonies of dozens to hundreds of individuals have also been found (1) (5) (6).

Female naked-rumped tomb bats give birth to a single young at a time, although, if similar to other Taphozous species, each female may have a rapid succession of pregnancies and undergo more than one pregnancy each year (7). The female carries the young until it is eight weeks old (7).

Studies have found the naked-rumped tomb bat’s remains in the pellets of the barn owl (Tyto alba), making this one possible predator of this small mammal (3) (8).

While the use of pesticides and the loss of some roosts (such as those in buildings) are probably negatively affecting some populations of the naked-rumped tomb bat (1), overall this species is not considered threatened due to its large distribution and tolerance of a certain level of human disturbance (1).

Although there are no specific conservation measures in place for this species, it does occur in a number of protected areas throughout its range (1). In addition, in some areas, the naked-rumped tomb bat is seen as beneficial to local communities, either because people use people use the bat’s guano as fertilizeror because the bat feeds on insects that cause extensive crop damage (9). This acts as an incentive for local people to ensure the continued survival of this species.   

To learn more about bat conservation see:

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  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Molur, S., Marimuthu, G., Srinivasulu, C., Mistry, S., Hutson, A.M., Bates, P.J.J., Walker, S., Padmapriya, K. and Binupriya, A.R. (2002) Status of South Asian Chiroptera: Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (C.A.M.P.) Workshop Report. Zoo Outreach Organization/CBSG-South Asia, Coimbatore, India.
  3. Hoath, R. (2009) A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. American University in Cairo Press, Cairo.
  4. Happold, D.C.D. (1987) The Mammals of Nigeria. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Qumsiyeh, M., Amr, Z. and Al-Oran, R. (1998) Further record of bats from Jordan and a synopsis. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 22: 277-284.
  6. Bates, P. and Harrison, D. (1997) Bats of the Indian Subcontinent. Harrison Zoological Museum, Sevenoaks, Kent.
  7. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  8. Qumsiyeh, M. (1985) The Bats of Egypt. Texas Tech Press, Lubbock, Texas.
  9. Harrison, D. and Bates, P. (1991) The Mammals of Arabia. Harrison Zoological Museum, Sevenoaks, Kent.