Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

This apparently wary bat can be found deep inside small caves, hanging high on the ceiling, suspended by their toes and strong claws (2). A 'tendon-locking mechanism' keeps their claws bent with very little muscular effort, and hanging upside down allows the bat to swiftly take flight from the resting position (3). Many caves in which Kitti's hog-nosed bats have been found contain only 10 to 15 individuals, but the average group size is 100, and the maximum is 500 (6). Females give birth to a single young in late April, the dry season, and leave their offspring in the roost whilst they venture out to forage (6). Kitti's hog-nosed bats emerge from their caves shortly after sunset, and again just before dawn, when they hunt for brief periods (2) (3). They search for prey around the tops of teak trees and bamboo clumps (6), gleaning insects from foliage and seizing small flying insects from the air (2). Like other bats, the Kitti's hog-nosed bat can locate prey and navigate through the trees by using echolocation. They emit ultrasonic squeaks that bounce off their surroundings, and the echoes are used to create a mental map of the area, and determine the location of potential prey (3).
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Description

This tiny bat is not only the smallest bat in the world, but also the smallest mammal in existence, and the sole living species of the family Craseonycteridae (2) (3). Its extinction would not only be the loss of an incredibly unique species, but an entire branch of the evolutionary tree would vanish from our planet. Kitti's hog-nosed bat has long greyish-brown fur on its back, and shorter, paler fur on its underparts (2). Its common name arises from its flat, fleshy, pig-like muzzle (2), situated between extremely small eyes concealed by facial hair (2). Their large and membranous ears, with a long and well-developed tragus, enhance their ability to pinpoint the echoes with which they navigate (2) (3). Male Kitti's hog-nosed bats possess a rounded, glandular swelling on the lower portion of the throat; this is either less prominent or completely absent in females (2).
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Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs in Thailand and Myanmar. The type locality in Thailand is Kanchanaburi, Ban Sai Yoke (= Yok), cave near the Forestry Station (14''26'N, 8''51'E). It potentially occurs further south in Myanmar, a genetic study is being undertaken to determine if the species exists in two isolated subpopulations. There are additional limestone caves near the Thai border in Myanmar although these have not been surveyed. Its elevational range is from 0-500 m asl.
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Geographic Range

Ban Sai Yoke, Kanchanaburi Province, Southwestern Thailand

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

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Historic Range:
Thailand

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Range

Kitti's hog-nosed bat has been found in the Kanchanaburi Province of west-central Thailand (2), and in Mon State, south-east Myanmar (4) (5).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The size of a large bumblebee, Craseonycteris thonglongyai may be the world's smallest mammal. Its head and body length ranges from 29 to 33 mm, and its forearm ranges from 22 to 26 mm. One of C. thonglongyai's most distinctive features is its pig-like muzzle, which is swollen around the nostrils and chin. The wide, crescent-shaped nostrils open directly in the face of the nose pad, which is formed by the wide septum. Another distinct trait is C. thonglongyai's lack of a tail, despite the presence of two caudal vertabrae. The upper side of the body is either brown to red or grey. The underside is generally paler, while the wings and interfemoral membrane are dark. Bats of this species have small eyes, which are mainly concealed by fur, and large ears. The tragus is almost one half the length of the ear, narrow at its base and widest at its middle. A glandular swelling at the base of the throat is found in a males, who also has a relatively large penis. A female has a pair of pectoral nipples and a pair of vestigial pubic nipples. The long and wide wings have a tip adapted for hovering. The propatagium is broad, the thumb short with a well-developed claw, and the hindfeet are long and narrow. Craseonycteris thonglongyai has a dental formula of 1/2 1/1 1/2 1/3. Its upper incisors are large, and its lower incisors are tricusped, with the middle cusp dominant (Nowak and Paradiso, 1983). Koopman (1984) describes them as normal insectivorous-type teeth.

The skull is small with an inflated and globose braincase, prominent sagittal crest, slender zygomatic arch and large, flat bullae. It lacks a postorbital process (Nowak and Paradiso, 1983). The premaxillaryi is separate from the surrounding bones. The nasal branch, which is fused posteriorly and lies on the nasals and maxillae, is more developed than the palatal branch. The palatal branch is fused anteriorly and posteriorly, forming a large vacuity (Lawlor, 1979). Its postcranial sketelon varies from other bats in that its second manal digit has a single bony digit. It has a threadlike fibula, a weak pelvis, and extremely fused sacral vertebrae (Koopman, 1984). Craseonycteris thonglongyai also lacks a calcar (Nowak and Paradiso, 1983).

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is always associated with limestone outcrops near rivers and can survive in degraded areas. It always roosts in caves. Weighing around two grams, this tiny bat is reputedly the world's smallest mammal. It is insectivorous and normal foraging range appears to be limited to an area of around 1 km from the roost site (Hutson et al. 2001).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Craseonycteris thonglongyai dwells far from the entrance, deep in the most remote, small limestone caves (Nowak and Paradiso, 1983). These caves are located in a previously forested area, which had been completely clearcut in the 1950's and is now dominated by teak plantations (Macdonald, 1984).

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Inhabits limestone caves situated amongst bamboo forests and deciduous hardwood trees (2) (6).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Craseonycteris thonglongyai is an insectivorous bat. It appears to feed at night by gleaning on foliage, taking in the small arthropods that rest on the tops of bushes and trees (Nowak and Paradiso, 1983). Diptera make up approximately 80% of its diet, with Hymenoptera and occasional Psocoptera comprising a much smaller portion (Nabhitbhata, 1982).

Animal Foods: insects

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

There is no information on the reproductive system of this species. Members of the most closely related families, Rhinopomatidae and Emballonuridae, typically have one young per litter and one litter per year. Breeding systems vary greatly between these families (Lawlor, 1979).

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
C1

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Bates, P., Bumrungsri, S. & Francis, C.

Reviewer/s
Hutson, A.M., Racey, P.A. (Chiroptera Red List Authority), Chanson, J. & Chiozza, F. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Vulnerable as the population is estimated to be less than 10,000 individuals, and based on population declines in Thailand it is expected to decline by 10% in the next ten years.

History
  • 1996
    Endangered
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
  • 1996
    Endangered
  • 1994
    Rare
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Rare
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Rare
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 01/23/1984
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10) 
Where Listed: Entire


Population detail:

Population location: Entire
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Craseonycteris thonglongyai , see its USFWS Species Profile

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Craseonycteris thonglongyai is endangered and rare, a CITES list animal. The total population is estimated at two hundred individuals.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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Status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Population

Population
The total population is restricted to eight caves in Myanmar (Pereira et al. 2006) and 35 in Thailand (Yokubo et al. 2005; Redfield, 2006). The population in Thailand is estimated to be 5,100 individuals and the population has decreased. From 1983 to 1997, there has been a 10% decrease while from 1998 to the present a 14% decrease has been estimated. These figures are not based on the same cave samples, as the species disappeared from some caves and appeared in others and it is not known whether this simply reflects colonies moving from one cave to another (S. Bumrungsri pers. comm.) The population in Myanmar is over 1,500 individuals (P. Bates pers. comm.), all age classes are included although this is likely to be represented by mature individuals as the species matures quickly.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The species is affected by disturbance of roosts by religious visits, fertilizer collection and tourism - there has been development of 'show caves' (S. Bumrungsri pers. comm.). There is also the potential for the extraction of limestone which would cause habitat destruction.
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Shortly after the discovery of this unique species in the 1970s, the Kitti's hog-nosed bat came under threat from disturbance by tourists, scientific collection, and collection for tourist souvenirs (6). Such disturbance has led to some caves being abandoned in Thailand (4), but luckily, the inaccessibility of many of their roost caves has prevented the whole population being affected (6). Today, different threats prevail. In Myanmar, Kitti's hog-nosed bat may be impacted by the smoke and dust emitted from cement factories located close to where the bats forage (4). Many of the caves are Buddhist sites that attract a growing number of pilgrims for meditation. Unfortunately this quiet activity still involves sufficient disturbance and may provoke the bat to abandon its roost (4) (6), although the presence of monks also has the benefit of restricting hunting of the bats (4). Another serious threat arises from the burning of forest near the bat caves, which destroys critical foraging habitat (6). There is also a proposal to construct a pipeline from Myanmar to Thailand (6), which could potentially greatly impact this species through disturbance and habitat degradation.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There is a need for the protection of the cave roosts. A survey of the limestone caves just across the Thai border inside Myanmar is required to determine if the species occurs there. Education of monks to prevent burning of incense is also required (P. Bates pers. comm.) as well as improvement of transboundary collaboration on conservation of the species along with transboundary information exchange, and identification and establishment of protected areas (P. Bates pers. comm.).
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Conservation

Kitti's hog-nosed bats occur within Sai Yok National Park (1), which offers some protection. A Conservation Action Plan was created for this species in 2001, which recommends actions for the conservation of the species (6). These recommendations include monitoring, providing incentives to local people to maintain essential habitat, and identifying and protecting key cave roosts (6).
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Wikipedia

Kitti's hog-nosed bat

Kitti's hog-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai), also known as the bumblebee bat, is a vulnerable species of bat and the only extant member of the family Craseonycteridae. It occurs in western Thailand and southeast Burma, where it occupies limestone caves along rivers.

Kitti's hog-nosed bat is the smallest species of bat and arguably the world's smallest mammal. It has a reddish-brown or grey coat, with a distinctive pig-like snout. Colonies range greatly in size, with an average of 100 individuals per cave. The bat feeds during short activity periods in the evening and dawn, foraging around nearby forest areas for insects. Females give birth annually to a single offspring.

Although the bat's status in Burma is not well known, the Thai population is restricted to a single province and may be at risk for extinction. Its potential threats are primarily anthropogenic, and include habitat degradation and the disturbance of roosting sites.[1]

Description[edit]

Kitti's hog-nosed bat is about 29 to 33 mm (1.1 to 1.3 in) in length and 2 g (0.071 oz) in mass,[2] hence the common name of "bumblebee bat". It is the smallest species of bat and may be the world's smallest mammal, depending on how size is defined. The main competitors for the title are small shrews; in particular, the Etruscan shrew may be lighter at 1.2 to 2.7 g (0.042 to 0.095 oz) but is longer, measuring 36 to 53 mm (1.4 to 2.1 in) from its head to the base of the tail.[3]

The bat has a distinctive swollen, pig-like snout[2] with thin, vertical nostrils.[4] Its ears are relatively large, while its eyes are small and mostly concealed by fur.[5] Its teeth are typical of an insectivorous bat.[5] The dental formula is 1:1:1:3 in the upper jaw and 2:1:2:3 in the lower jaw,[4] with large upper incisors.[5]

The bat's upperparts are reddish-brown or grey, while the underside is generally paler.[5] The wings are relatively large and darker in colour, with long tips that allow the bat to hover.[2] Despite having two caudal vertebrae, Kitti's Hog-nosed Bat has no visible tail.[5] There is a large web of skin between the hind legs (the uropatagium) which may assist in flying and catching insects, although there are no tail bones or calcars to help control it in flight.[2][5][6]

Range and distribution[edit]

Kitti's hog-nosed bat occupies the limestone caves along rivers, within dry evergreen or deciduous forests.[2] In Thailand, Kitti's hog-nosed bat is restricted to a small region of the Tenasserim Hills in Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi Province, within the drainage basin of the Khwae Noi River.[2][7] While the Sai Yok National Park in the Dawna Hills contains much of the bat's range, some Thai populations occur outside the park and are therefore unprotected.[2]

Since the 2001 discovery of a single individual in Burma, at least nine separate sites have been identified in the limestone outcrops of the Dawna and Karen Hills outside the Thanlwin, Ataran, and Gyaing Rivers of Kayin and Mon States.[7] The Thai and Burmese populations are morphologically identical, but their echolocation calls are distinct.[7] It is not known whether the two populations are reproductively isolated.[7]

Behaviour[edit]

Kitti's hog-nosed bat roosts in the caves of limestone hills, far from the entrance. While many caves contain only 10 to 15 individuals, the average group size is 100, with a maximum of about 500. Individuals roost high on walls or roof domes, far apart from each other.[8] Bats also undertake seasonal migration between caves.[8]

Kitti's hog-nosed bat has a brief activity period, leaving its roost for only 30 minutes in the evening and 20 minutes at dawn. These short flights are easily interrupted by heavy rain or cold temperatures.[8] During this period, the bat forages within fields of cassava and kapok or around the tops of bamboo clumps and teak trees, within one kilometre of the roosting site.[2][8] The wings seem to be shaped for hovering flight, and the gut contents of specimens include spiders and insects that are presumably gleaned off foliage. Nevertheless, most prey is probably caught in flight.[8] Main staples of the bat's diet include small flies (Chloropidae, Agromyzidae, and Anthomyiidae), hymenopterans, and psocopterans.[8]

Late in the dry season (around April) of each year, females give birth to a single offspring. During feeding periods, the young either stays in the roost or remains attached to the mother at one of her two vestigial pubic nipples.[5][8]

Taxonomy[edit]

Kitti's hog-nosed bat is the only extant species in the family Craseonycteridae, which is grouped in the superfamily Rhinolophoidea as a result of molecular testing. Based on this determination, the bat's closest relatives are members of the families Hipposideridae and Rhinopomatidae.[4]

Kitti's hog-nosed bat was unknown to the world at large prior to 1974. Its common name refers to its discoverer, Thai zoologist Kitti Thonglongya. Thonglongya worked with a British partner, John E. Hill, in classifying bats of Thailand; after Thonglongya died suddenly in February 1974, Hill formally described the species, giving it the binomial name Craseonycteris thonglongyai in honour of his colleague.[9][10]

Conservation[edit]

As of the species' most recent review in 2008, Kitti's hog-nosed bat is listed by the IUCN as vulnerable, with a downward population trend.[1]

Soon after the bat's discovery in the 1970s, some roosting sites became disturbed as a result of tourism, scientific collection, and even the collection and sale of individuals as souvenirs. However, these pressures may not have had a significant effect on the species as a whole, since many small colonies exist in hard-to-access locations, and only a few major caves were disturbed. Another potential risk is the activity of local monks, who have occupied roost caves during periods of meditation.[8]

Currently, the most significant and long-term threat to the Thai population could be the annual burning of forest areas, which is most prevalent during the bat's breeding season. In addition, the proposed construction of a pipeline from Burma to Thailand may have a negative impact.[8] Threats to the Burmese population are not well known.[2]

In 2007, Kitti's hog-nosed bat was identified by the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) project as one of its Top 10 "focal species".[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Bates, P., Bumrungsri, S. & Francis, C. (2008). Craseonycteris thonglongyai. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 28 January 2009. Listed as Vulnerable
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Bumblebee bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai)". EDGE Species. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  3. ^ "Mammal record breakers: The smallest!". The Mammal Society. Archived from the original on July 13, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  4. ^ a b c Hulva & Horáček (2002). "Craseonycteris thonglongyai (Chiroptera: Craseonycteridae) is a rhinolophoid: molecular evidence from cytochrome b". Acta Chiropterologica 4 (2): 107–120. doi:10.3161/001.004.0201. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Goswami, A. 1999. Craseonycteris thonglongyai, Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved on 11 April 2008.
  6. ^ Meyers, P. 1997. Bat Wings and Tails, Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved on 12 April 2008.
  7. ^ a b c d MJR Pereira, Maria João Ramos et al. (October 2006). "Status of the world's smallest mammal, the bumble-bee bat Craseonycteris thonglongyai, in Myanmar". Oryx 40 (4): 456–463. doi:10.1017/S0030605306001268. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hutson, A. M., Mickleburgh, S. P. and Racey, P. A. (Compilers). 2001. Microchiropteran Bats: Global Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Chiroptera Specialist Group. IUCN: Gland, Switzerland.
  9. ^ J. E. Hill and Susan E. Smith (1981-12-03). "Craseonycteris thonglongyai". Mammalian Species 160: 1–4. doi:10.2307/3503984. 
  10. ^ Schlitter, Duane A. (February 1975). "Kitti Thonglongya, 1928-1974". Journal of Mammalogy 56 (1): 279–280. 
  11. ^ "Protection for 'weirdest' species". BBC. 2007-01-16. Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
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