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Nectar bats and bananas

December 29, 2010

Yesterday’s blog on monsoon mammals received plenty of attention.

An interest in Thai mammals is needed since many Southeast Asian species are near extinction. The pangolin has been reduced with 90% in the last few years due to “… the false belief about the medicinal values of their scales” (Francis 2008). The near extinction of pangolins may explain why the illegal traders recently moved to tockay geckos. With more knowledgeable eyes out in the woods, more reports will help the scientists saving endangered species.

Since the bats constitute one third of all land mammal species in Southeast Asia, the number of species might be overwhelming to somebody trying to make an ID. Therefore I provide a shortcut to the identification of the bat families in northern Thailand. It will narrow down the search in Francis’ book I recommended yesterday. Simply select one alternative to each question, and go to next question (indicated by a number) or compare the bat illustrations of the proposed family with the darling you found. The pages refer to Francis’ book. Since the knowledge about distribution is far from complete, I included bats which are not yet reported from here, but could be around. Next time you see a bat licking the sweet nectar of a banana flower, you might be able to name it!

Eric Danell

A preliminary key to the bat families in northern Thailand

1. Large eyes …………………………………………………Fruit bats (Pteropodidae, page 38-42).

1. Strikingly small eyes ………………………………………………………………………………………….2.

2. Tail partly free, not entirely enclosed in skinflaps (interfemoral membrane)…………..3.

2. Tail absent or entirely enclosed in skinflaps…………………………………………………………5.

3. Tail much longer than the feet……………………………………………………………………………4.

3. Short tail stump………………………Short-tailed bats (Emballunoridae, page 44: 3-8).

4. Lip wrinkled……………………………….. …………Free-tailed bats (Molossidae, page 74).

4. Lip not wrinkled……………………….Mouse-tailed bats (Rhinopomatidae, page 44: 1).

5. Pig-like nose (very small bat)………. Hog-nosed bats (Craseonycteridae, page 44: 2).

5. Nose not pig-like (small to large bays)…………………………………………………………………6.

6. Nose with noseleaf (skin flaps)……………………………………………………………………………7.

6. Nose without noseleaf……………………. Common bats (Vespertilionidae, page 58-72).

7. A skin membrane joining the ears…False vampires (Megadermatidae, page 46:1-2).

7. Ears separate from each other…………………………………………………………………………….8.

8. Chedi-like noseleaf…………………………Horseshoe bats (Rhinolophidae, page 46-50).

8. Roundish noseleaf………………………….Roundleaf bats (Hipposideridae, page 51-56).

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