Theobald's Tomb Bat (Taphozous theobaldi)


Theobald's Tomb Bat is a widespread, though relatively uncommon species. It inhabits forested areas and roosts mainly in caves. Large roosts numbering thousands of bats can occur. Dorsally its fur is brown to dark brown, ventrally it is more pale. The chin is covered in fur, and some males may have a narrow 'beard' of darker fur. The limbs and flight membrane are dark brown. The ears are large and rounded, the eyes of moderate size, and the tail around 25 mm in length. The wings are long and narrow.

Range Description:

This species is widely, but patchily, recorded in South Asia, mainland Southeast Asia and insular Southeast Asia with a single report from China. In South Asia, this species is presently known only from India (Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra) in South Asia and has been recorded from sea level to 1,200 m asl (Molur et al. 2002). On the Southeast Asian mainland, this species occurs in southern Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Lao PDR. Within insular Southeast Asia, it has been recorded from Indonesia (Java and Sulawesi) and the island of Borneo (Kalimantan [Indonesia]), but is presumably more widespread in this region. In China, it is reportedly present in Yunnan although this needs confirmation (Wang 2002; Smith and Xie 2008). A record from Malaysia appears to be in error (see Medway 1969).
Countries: Native:
Cambodia; India; Myanmar; Thailand; Vietnam


In Myanmar, there are some large colonies of up to several thousand bats (P. Bates pers. comm.). In India, the species is reportedly present as colonies of several hundred bats in a few caves (D.S. Joshi pers. comm.). In Thailand colonies are smaller, generally consisting of between 10 and 40 bats (S. Bumrungsri pers. comm.).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology:

The species tends to be associated with forest habitats, with caves and deep crevices of large caves used as roosting sites (Bates and Harrison 1997; Smith and Xie 2008).). It has been collected from limestone caves in Myanmar (P. Bates pers. comm.).
Systems: Terrestrial

 Major Threat(s):

 This species is threatened by disturbance and destruction of roosting sites and persecution by local people. D.S. Joshi (pers. comm.) recounts 3,000 bats killed in six caves in Maharashtra, India, earlier this decade. Guano from this insectivorous species is mined and used as fertilizer in some areas (Smith and Xie 2008). It is used for subsistence food and medicinal purposes in parts of its range.

 Conservation Actions:

 Within South Asia, there are no direct conservation measures in place, however, the species has been recorded from a number of protected areas in India such as Silent Valley National Park in Kerala and Bhimashanker Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra (Molur et al. 2002). There is a need to protect important roosting sites for this species throughout its range. Additional field surveys, studies into distribution, abundance, breeding biology, general ecology and population monitoring of this species are needed