Greater Bamboo Bat (Tylonycteris robustula)


Dorsal and ventral fur is brown, and the throat and belly are paler than the back.

Forearm length 25.0 -29.0 mm , average 27.2 mm . Average wingspan is 195.5 mm. Normally larger than T. pachypus.

Skull is extremely flat, there are pads on digit plantar (foot) and elbow joints, all these features being adaptations to roosting in bamboo stems.

Average weight 4.8g. (all the measurement data as given by Zhang et al., 2005).
Life history

Birth dates between late May and early June in Guangxi. Gives birth to twins. Pups can fly when 24-27 days old (Zhang et al. 2005).This bat is common where bamboo grows. It is believed that it has a habit of roosting inside the stems of the bamboo. The bats gain access via vertical slits in the stem wall; these slits can created by beetles. Size: About 4-5 cm without tail. Bamboo Bats (or 'Club-footed Bats') are so-called because they roost by day inside the stems (or 'culms') of various bamboo species.

Many such roosting sites are created by the activities of a species of leaf beetle Lasiochila goryi which, after emergence from pupation, cuts a narrow vertical slit in order to escape confinement within the bamboo stem. Larger roosting sites may naturally occur in dead or dying bamboo stems. Occasionally both species may roost in the same bamboo clump, but rarely in the same cavity.

There are two species of bamboo bat : the Greater Bamboo Bat Tylonycteris robustula and the Lesser Bamboo Bat T. pachypus. Both species have a markedly flattened skull to allow them access to their roost. The thumbs and soles of the feet have fleshy pads which give a firm foothold inside the bamboo.

Remarkably these bats are able to squeeze through slits as narrow as 4-8 mm. Roosting sites are thus largely inaccessible to predators, though an instance of predation by a Paradise Tree Snake Chrysopelea paradisi was documented in Singapore by Chan Kwok Wai.

Reportedly the bats can fly straight through the slit-shaped opening without pausing, though whether this is true or not is unclear.

Fur colour is variable : the Greater Bamboo Bat is medium to dark brownish overall, and the Lesser Bamboo Bat tends to be more pale brown on top, and orange underneath. The species are most easily distinguished on the basis of size.

Bamboo bats inhabit forested areas, and forage at night for flying insects, particularly termite swarms.


This species ranges from North-eastern India, through parts of Southern China, to much of mainland and insular Southeast Asia. In South Asia, this species is presently only known from India (Mizoram) (Srinivauslu et al. in press), where it has been recorded from an elevation of 800 to 1,000 m asl (Molur et al. 2002). In southern China, it has been reported from Yunnan and Guangxi (Smith and Xie 2008). In Southeast Asia, it ranges from Myanmar in the west, through Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, to Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sulawesi, Peleng), the island of Timor (East Timor and Indonesia), western Borneo (Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia) and the Philippines, where it has been recorded from the islands of Luzon (Rizal and Zambales provinces), Calauit and Palawan (Heaney et al. 1998) and Negros (Carino et al. 2006).
Countries: Native:
Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Philippines; Singapore; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Vietnam


There are no major threats to the species as a whole. In South Asia the threats to this species remain unknown (Molur et al. 2002), however, it is presumed that this species may be threatened by deforestation, generally resulting from commercial logging operations and the conversion of land to agricultural and other uses. It is also possibly threatened due to disturbance to roosting sites (C. Srinivasulu pers. comm. 24 February 2008).

Conservation Actions:

This species has been recorded from nay protected areas. In South Asia, there are no direct conservation measures in place for this species and it has not been recorded from any protected areas. In South Asia, further studies are needed into the taxonomy, distribution, abundance, reproduction and ecology of this species. Populations should be monitored to record changes in abundance and distribution (C. Srinivasulu pers. comm. 24 February 2008).