Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat (Nyctimene rabori)
|Size||Length: 14.2 cm (2)|
Wingspan: 55 cm (3)
Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).
First described in 1984, the peculiar features of this species make it one of the strangest and intriguing of all known bats (4). One of the most bizarre and distinctive features is its separate tubular nostrils, which are about 6 mm long and project outwards above the mouth, and give this bat its common name (2) (3) (4). This species is also one of the few striped bats in the world, bearing one broad dark stripe down the centre of its back. There are also unusual yellow spots on the ears and wings (2) (4). The fur is soft and a pale golden brown to buff colour in females, and a darker, more chocolaty brown in males (2).
As its common name suggests, the Philippine tube-nosed bat is endemic to the Philippines, where it is recorded only from the islands of Cebu, Negros and Sibuyan (4). The species has an extremely restricted range on these islands, having only once been seen on Cebu over 10 years ago, and with only a small population surviving in the hills of Sibuyan. The largest population exists on Negros Island, but is now limited to the relatively narrow strips of forest on the mountainside (3).
This bat is almost always found in primary, preferably lowland forest, but has also been recorded in lightly disturbed secondary forest (5). Known breeding populations tend to occur in only very narrow bands of forest near the tops of ridges and on the sides of tall mountains (3). Although recorded from 200 to 1,300 m on Negros Island (5), the lower limit is probably now about 800 – 900 m and rising as deforestation continues (3), but the species is found near sea level on Sibuyan (5). This bat roosts either in vegetation or large hollow trees in the forest, but never in caves (3).
The Philippine tube-nosed bat breeds seasonally, with females giving birth to one young each year between April and May. Young females first become pregnant at around seven to eight months old, producing their first young four and a half to five months later, at about one year of age. By contrast, males are thought to reach sexual maturity a little later than females, at approximately one year of age. Lactation lasts three to four months, but little else is known about parental behaviour in raising the young (3).
This forest bat is known to feed on wild figs, and thought to rarely forage far from its roost (3). Like many fruit bats, this species is also suspected to feed on a variety of other local fruits and possibly insects as well (2).
Populations of this unusual-looking bat have declined dramatically since 1950 due to extensive habitat destruction, and the threat of extinction now lingers dangerously close (5). Habitat has been destroyed by clearing and illegal logging, leaving less than just 1 % of original old-growth lowland forest remaining on Negros Island, where the largest population of this species is found (3). Lowland rainforest on Cebu Island is virtually gone altogether, and it is not known if this species still survives there, as it has not been seen for over 10 years. Thus, the Philippine tube-nosed bat now clings to a precarious existence, edging slowly closer to extinction as illegal logging and clearing continue to reduce vital habitat ever further (4).
Both Mount Canlaon and a part of the mountainous southern fragment where this bat is thought to occur on Negros Island are designated by the national government as protected areas. Nevertheless, deforestation continues to pose a serious threat, including in the beautiful Twin Lakes Region that falls within the southern ‘protected area’ (6). If the remaining forest fragments were adequately protected, this rare and intriguing species may have a chance of survival (2), but if current rates of habitat loss continue, the future for this bat looks pretty bleak.
For more information on the Philippine tube-nosed bat see:
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- Endemic: a species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Lactation: Production of milk in the breast.
- Primary: refers to forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
- Secondary: refers to forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.
IUCN Red List (January, 2010)