Black-Bearded Tomb Bat (Taphozous melanopogon)



HB:70-80;T: 20-24; FA: 55-65; E: 21-23; HF: 13-15.

The colour is widely variable, depending on the sex, age and season; the individual hairs are white, tipped with pale brown to reddish-buff on the upperparts. The underparts, ears and flight membrane are buff; juveniles are darker. Only the males have a black beard, but this is by no means universal, and the beard may only be seasonal. Females have short hair under the . There is no throat sacs but instead small pores which open into the throat. A radio-metacarpal pouch is present. The tail is rather thick, with a slight swelling at the tip. The wings attach above the ankles, and fur extends to the interfemoral membrane and the wings as far as the radius.


Usually found in hilly forest countryside, near water, where they form colonies of between 150 to 4000 individuals. They are often found with T. theobaldu. They roost in caves or large vertical faults in cliffs, with each individual occupying a defined territory determined by social hierarchy. At the roost, adult males are dispersed around a nucleus of females; if the shape of the colony is elongated  the males are seen occupying the both extremities in a linear disposition. Some colonies consist of only males, usually situation close to the colony of females. The bas come out of the roost in waves of 3 to 12 individuals 25 to 30 minutes after sunset. Flight is swift and pitching and the prey is usually flying insects. In the mating season ( January -February small glands under the chin of the male excrete a thick sticky substance which runs over the beard; the single young is born blind and naked in April or may  and are nursed for 2 months , then leaves the mother forever. The young though stay in the colony. Juvenile mortality is very high.

This widespread insectivorous bat inhabits various forest types, including scrub and other disturbed areas. It generally roosts in caves and rock crevices, sometimes in the company of other bat species. The pair of bats illustrated here were found clinging to the roof a large limestone cave at Krabi, Southern Thailand, in the company of around 50 Round leaf bats. Colonies of up to 4000 individuals have been reported from other parts of Thailand. Its fur is pale in colour, ranging from buff to greyish-brown. Adult males of the species often possess a dark beard under the throat   The wings are pale and pinkish, and mainly devoid of fur. The free tail is slender and slightly enlarged at the tip.

Range Description:

 This species is distributed in much of South Asia, Southern China and Southeast Asia. In South Asia, this species is presently known from Bangladesh, India (Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu) and Sri Lanka (Central, Northern Central, North Western, Sabaragamuwa and Western provinces) (Molur et al. 2002). It has been recorded up to 800 m asl. In southern China, it has been recorded from southern Yunnan, southern Guangxi, Guangdong and Hainan Island (Smith and Xie 2008). In addition, the type series of T. solifer Hollister, 1913, is purportedly from Beijing (Smith and Xie 2008). In Southeast Asia, it is widely distributed from Myanmar in the west, through Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, to Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Bali, Nusa Penida, Lombok, Sumbawa, Sulawesi, Waleabahi, Sanana, Buru, Halmahera and Bunguran), the island of Timor (East Timor and Indonesia), the island of Borneo (Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia), and the Philippines. In the Philippines it has been recorded from the islands of Biliran, Cebu, Gigante, Leyte, Luzon (Ilocos Norte, Nueva Viscaya, Pangasinan, Rizal provinces), Maripipi, Mindanao (Davao del Sur), Negros, Palawan, Sibuyan, Tincasan (= Tingkasan). Also reported from Lubang, Luzon (Abra Province) and Mindoro (Lawrence 1939) (Heaney et al. 1998). It is found from sea level to 150 m asl in the Philippines (Heaney et al. 1998).

Countries: Native:

Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia (Jawa, Lesser Sunda Is., Sulawesi, Sumatera); Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak); Myanmar; Philippines; Singapore; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Vietnam


This species is locally abundant or common and populations seem stable throughout its range.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology:

This species is known from a wide variety of forested habitats in tropical regions, and has additionally been recorded from urban areas. It is found in hilly areas and roosts in caves, old dilapidated buildings, dungeons of old forts, temples, old disused mines, tunnels (Lawrence 1939; Sanborn 1952; Taylor 1934; Rickart et al. 1993; Heaney et al. 1998; Molur et al. 2002; Smith and Xie 2008). This species is colonial and roosts in colonies of a few to thousands of individuals. It is alert, agile and flies with a fast, straight pitching flight (Bates and Harrison 1997). A single young is born after a gestation period of 120-125 days (Bates and Harrison 1997).
Systems: Terrestrial

Major Threat(s):

There are no major threats to this species as a whole. In South Asia, the species is locally threatened by habitat loss, largely through commercial logging, conversion of land to agricultural use, hunting for local consumption and disturbance to roosting sites by humans (Molur et al. 2002). In the some countries, including Lao PDR and the Philippines, there is likely some localized hunting of this cave roosting species for food (Heaney and Balete pers. comm.).

 Conservation Actions:

This species has been recorded from many protected areas. Within India, it has been recorded from Kanha National Park and Satpura National Park in Madhya Pradesh, Nagarjunasagar Srisailama Tiger Reserve, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh, Borivili National Park in Maharashtra, and may occur in many more protected areas (C. Srinivasulu pers. comm.). In South Asia, further studies are needed into the distribution, abundance, breeding biology and general ecology of this species. Populations of this species should be monitored to record changes in abundance and distribution (Molur et al. 2002). Public awareness activities need to be taken up to highlight the importance of this species in agricultural ecosystem as controller of insect pests (C. Srinivasulu pers. comm.).