Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat, Craseonycteris thonglongyai
Kitti’s hog-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai) is the only remaining species within the family Craseonycteridae, and is also known as the bumblebee bat. It is native to southeast Burma and western Thailand, where it is limited to Dawna Hills located in Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi Province. In this area, there is one population that resides in a drainage basin on the Khwae Noi River. Much of its range here occurs in the protected area known as Sai Yok National Park, but some populations occur outside of this area.
Kitti’s hog-nosed bat prefers a habitat within arid deciduous or evergreen forests, roosting in limestone caves. This species was first discovered in Burma in 2001, and since then, more than nine caves have been found within its range that are viable habitat options. Because the populations found in Burma and Thailand are genetically similar with different echolocation vocalizations, it is difficult to know whether its populations are isolated from mating.
Kitti’s hog-nosed bat is small, reaching an average body length of up to 1.3 inches and weighing only .07 ounces, where it derives one of its common names. It I thought that this bat may be the world’s smallest mammal, and it already holds the title of the world’s smallest bat. The nose of this bat resembles that of a pig, where it derives its name, and its ears are large in proportion to its size. Its dorsal fur is burnished brown or grey in color, while its underbelly is typically pale. Its long wings are darker than the rest of its body and bear tips that allow it to hover. It does not have a tail.
As is typical to bat species, Kitti’s hog-nosed bat will form groups between ten to five hundred individuals, although most roosts contain around one hundred bats. These bats prefer to roost deep inside the limestone caves, typically in higher areas. Different caves are used in different seasons. Females of this species give birth to one pup in April, the dry season of its range, and the pup will remain close to its mother until it is weaned.
Kitti’s hog-nosed bat only leaves its roost for two brief moments in its day, typically at dusk and at dawn. Often times, rain or cold weather will hinder its flight. It will fly at elevations of up to 3,280 feet when searching for food, usually above its roost cave. Because this bat can hover easily, it is though that most of its food is consumed during flight. However, spiders and other insects are gleaned off foliage.
Kitti’s hog-nosed bat was first discovered in 1974 and has since declined in number. It is threatened by habitat loss and human activity. Perhaps the most major threat to this species are the annual fires conducted by Thai residents in its range, which typically occur during its fall mating season. Threats to the populations in Burma have not yet been identified. It was listed as one of the Top 10 “focal species” in the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) project, and appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “vulnerable”.
Image Caption: Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai). Credit: Jeffrey A. McNeeley/Wikipedia