Lesser Mouse-Tailed Bat (Rhinopoma hardwickei)
HB:55-75; T: 60-75; FA; 57-66; E22; HF: 15
The lesser mouse-tailed bat is, as its name suggests, a fairly small bat with a very long, mouse-like tail. In fact, it has one of the longest tails of all bats, often as long as the head and body combined. The fur on the body of the lesser mouse-tailed bat is usually brown-grey in colour, tending towards darker brown on the back and lighter grey on the underside, short and soft. . The face is furless, with beady black eyes, a flat, thin snout and a blunt nose, and the ears are large in proportion to the head. A thickened portion of skin at the end of the snout forms a nose leaf, which the bat uses as an amplifier for its echolocation calls . The long, thin tail is only partially enclosed within a flap of skin, known as the tail membrane, which aids the bat when flying; this is in contrast to many other bat species in which the tail membrane fully encloses the tail .
Biology and Ecology
The lesser mouse-tailed bat feeds primarily on insects, which
are caught in flight. Its flight is rather unique amongst bats as it initially
flutters its wings and then partially glides . Like most bats, the lesser
mouse-tailed bat uses echolocation to locate prey and avoid obstacles, allowing
it to fly in complete darkness. The ultrasound calls, which are emitted through
the nostrils, consist of long, high frequency chirps (of around 32 kilohertz).
Feeding as much as possible during the summer months, the lesser mouse-tailed
bat builds up fat in its abdominal region in preparation for the winter, when
food is scarce. During the winter season, the lesser mouse-tailed bat enters a
period of dormancy (hibernation) and lives off its fat reserves .After awakening
from its winter dormancy in late February, the lesser mouse-tailed bat enters
its breeding season, which lasts until the middle of April . The gestation
period lasts from 95 to 100 days, after which the female gives birth to a single
young in June or July. The lesser mouse-tailed bat is well adapted to its arid
habitat. The slit-shaped nostrils can be closed to keep out dust and sand and it
is able to survive without a source of fresh water, as it obtains most of the
water it requires from its food. The kidneys are also able to produce highly
concentrated urine, in order to conserve precious water. Inhabits
arid and semi-desert vegetation zones where suitable roosts and food are
available. Recorded in semi-desert grassland with areas of Acacia scrub in oases
with gardens and orchards surrounded by sandy desert and Hamada, in gorges of
wades with some Tamarix and Oleanders (Nerium oleander). Roosts in dry
caves, ruins, underground tunnels (including catacombs), mosques and old
buildings. In summer sometimes roosts in fissures, small crevices and among
boulders. The species is sedentary and it stores fat in autumn for the winter
Occurs across central and northern Africa through Arabia and
Southern Asia; from Morocco to India north to Israel, Palestine, Jordan Iraq and
Afghanistan and south to Kenya. Presence in Myanmar based on a very old
reference with no detail of location; there is doubt about its current presence.
Occurs up 1,100 m asl in Morocco and Algeria.
Afghanistan; Algeria; Bangladesh; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Chad; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Ethiopia; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Kenya; Kuwait; Libya; Mali; Mauritania; Morocco; Nepal; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; Sudan; Syrian Arab Republic; Thailand; Tunisia; Western Sahara; Yemen (Socotra)
Appears to be particularly abundant near oases. However, both
distribution and abundance are undoubtedly insufficiently investigated because
the roosts and suitable habitats are often unreachable. Colonies range in size
from a few individuals up to several hundred. Up to 500 individuals have been
reported in colonies in Jordan (Amr 2000). Occurs with other species in the
genus, in Iran it is normally found in low numbers and low densities and it
feeds on coleoptera (M. Sharifi pers. comm. 2005). Assumed stable throughout the
southwest Asia region (D. Kock pers. comm. 2005). Population information remains
unknown for its African distribution.
Population Trend: Stable
Human disturbance in roost sites and pesticide use against
locusts are the main threats. In arid areas of Iran which can not support high
numbers of colonies, they aggregate in a few large groups which increases their
vulnerability (M. Sharifi pers. comm. 2005). These are not thought to be major
threats to the species as a whole at present.
No specific measures are known or are in place, but presumably occurs in protected areas across the range. A study on the impacts of pesticides is required, especially ways in which the impact might be minimised.