IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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Common tube-nosed bat (Nyctimene albiventer)

The common tube-nosed bat has been recorded from the Halmahera, Obi, Batjan, Waigeo, Salawati, Banda, Kei and Aru Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, Moluccas, New Guinea, Admiralty and Solomon Islands and the Cape York peninsula of Australia. It ranges from sea level to 1,900 m above sea level. It usually lives in primary rainforest, being less common in secondary forest, sago swamp and palm forests, native gardens, plantations, Melaleuca savanna and monsoon forests.

This medium-sized, robust fruit bat has a large, rounded head. It has large eyes, long, tubular nostrils that extend sideways from the face and has a short tail. The long, soft fur is greyish brown above, but darker along the mid-back and on the spinal stripe. The underparts are usually yellowish-white. The neck and sides are tinged with yellow-orange. The ears and wings are splattered with irregular yellow spots. This mottled fur may help the bat stay concealed while hanging in its resting position (1). The head and body are about 8-9 cm long. The forearm is 5.5-6 cm (2.2-2.4 in) long and the bat weighs up to 45 g (1.6 oz) (2).

The bat roosts singly or in mother-infant pairs within vegetation. Its tubular nostrils may be an adaptation to its feeding habits or may function in sound production. The nasal tubes stretch and vibrate when the bat utters its high whistling call in mid flight (2).

The bat mainly eats fruits and vegetable matter, but may eat nectar and insects (3). Earlier observations indicated that captives prefer soft, juicy fruits and would not take insects that were offered. To eat, the bat hangs horizontally or obliquely in a fruit bush with its thumbs inserted into the fruit. It turns its lips up on the fruit and bites off pieces with its lower jaw. The upper teeth help the lips support the lower jaw. The bat shoves the bitten pieces toward its breast and the belly with its muzzle, then chews them up to extract the juice. A fringe of fleshy lobes on the inner edge of the lips seems to help the bat in this processing. Captives that ate guavas were not seen to bite into the inside of the fruit and the nostrils did not come in contact with the fruit at any time. The pulp of young coconuts is also eaten (1). The bat may play an essential role in seed dispersal for many local plant species.

Predation on this bat has not been reported, but the mottled pattern on the fur may help it stay concealed while it is in its resting position (1).

The bat may have two annual breeding seasons, in early winter and in late summer, or may breed year-round. Pregnant females with one embryo each have been taken in January, July, and August. Lactating females have been taken in February, May and August (1). Records for N. rabori indicate that preganancy lasts 4.5 to 5 months and lactation continues for 3 or 4 months. Females nurse the young and male parental care has not been reported. Females can first become pregnant at 7 to 8 months of age (1).

The conservation status is Lower Risk/Least Concern, due to the bat's wide distribution, presumed large population and as it is not believed to be declining and is unlikely to be hunted. The bat probably occurs in some protected areas. It is not known to have a negative or positive impact on human economies. This species is likely to be split in the future. If the populations on the Kei Islands are elevated to species status, it may be of conservation concern. Habitat destruction seems to be the main threat to the genus and deforestation could eventually affect N. albiventer as well as its close relatives.


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