Lesser Short-nosed Fruit Bat, Cynopterus brachyotis

The lesser short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus brachyotis) is a megabat that is native to South and Southeastern Asia, as well as Indonesia. Its range includes southwest and northwest India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, southern Burma, southern China, the Philippines, and Thailand, among many other areas including islands. This bat holds nine subspecies that occur in different areas throughout its range.

The lesser short-nosed fruit bat is typically tawny to brown in color, with brighter neck fur. Males tend to have orange collars while females have more yellow fur on the neck. Some younger individuals do not have a brightly colored neck. The lining of the wings and ears are white in color. This bat can reach an average body weight of up 1.1 ounces. Its face resembles that of a fox, with large eyes and small ears.

As is typical to bat species, the lesser short-nosed fruit bat lives in small groups that can be found roosting in caves, within trees, and under leaves. Sometimes, young males will roost alone, but can most often be found roosting with at least four females.  Roosts in trees are made when males use the two sets of incisors on the bottom jaw to bite through palm fronds and leaves until an adequate shelter is produced, and this can take up to over two months.

The mating season of the lesser short-nose fruit bat varies depending on location, with some populations breeding throughout the year. Populations in the Philippines typically have two pups in one year, between the months of March and June, and September and January as well. The pups will nurse for up to eight weeks, and both the father and the mother take care of them. Females are able to mate at six to eight months of age, while males mate at almost one year of age. These bats can live to be between twenty and thirty years.

The lesser short-nosed fruit bat feeds almost exclusively on fruit, preferring fragrant fruit like mangoes. It will also eat pollen and nectar. When foraging for food, these bats use adapted vision and scenting skills to locate desirable fruit.

These bats are not hunted by ground predators, but are sometimes consumed by humans as a delicacy. They are known as plant pollinators and seed dispersers for fruits like mangoes, bananas, dates, and avocados. However, this diet also makes them pests, because fruits are a common plant crop in many areas of their range.

The lesser short-nosed fruit bat is large in number with a wide distribution and no major threats, although habitat destruction may be a small threat. Because of this, it is listed on both the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern”.

Image Caption: Cynopterus brachyotis. Credit: Tabdulla /Wikipedia  (CC BY-SA 2.5)