Lesser Short Nosed Fruit Bat  (Cynopterus brachyotis)


With an appearance typical of a fruit bat, the lesser short-nosed fruit bat is a beautiful example. Its dog-like face with large, appealing eyes and white edging on the ears give this bat a magical quality. When roosting, the bat wraps its black wings tightly around its body like a cloak, leaving only the head visible. The white finger bones stand out against the black wing membranes, adding to the striking effect. The fur is short and greyish brown to yellowish brown on the back and paler on the underside. Adult males have a dark orange-red collar and females a more yellow-orange collar. Juveniles lack this collar and tend to be uniformly grey.


This widespread species ranges from South Asia, through parts of Southern China to parts of Southeast Asia. In South Asia, this species is presently known from Bangladesh (Sylhet division) (Sarker and Sarker 2005; Srinivasulu and Srinivasulu 2005), India (Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) and Sri Lanka (North Central, Uva and Western provinces) (Srinivasulu et al. in press; Molur et al. 2002). In southern China, it has been recorded from Guangdong, with possible records from Xizang (Medog) and southern Yunnan (Wang 2002; Smith and Xie 2008). In continental Southeast Asia, it is known from southern Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Viet Nam (identity of records from northern Vietnam need verification), Cambodia (known only from Phnom Phen [G. Csorba pers. comm.]), and Peninsular Malaysia. In Insular Southeast Asia, it is known from the islands of Sumatra and Java (Indonesia), Borneo (Indonesia and Malaysia only), the island of Sulawesi (Indonesia), the island of Timor (East Timor and Indonesia), the Talaud Islands (Indonesia) and Ternate Island (Indonesia). It might be present on the island of Palawan in the Philippines, but this requires confirmation. This species of fruit bat is found across Southern and Southeast Asia, from Sri Lanka to Indonesia and the Philippines. It has many subspecies that vary in size and colouration: Cynopterus brachyotis altitudinis (Cameron Highlands of Peninsular Malaysia); Cynopterus brachyotis brachyotis (Borneo, Lombok, Peninsular Malaysia, the Philippines, Sulawesi); Cynopterus brachyotis brachysoma (Andaman Islands); Cynopterus brachyotis ceylonensis (Sri Lanka); Cynopterus brachyotis concolor (Enganno Island); Cynopterus brachyotis hoffeti (Vietnam); Cynopterus brachyotis insularum (Kangean Island) (3); Cynopterus brachyotis javanicus (Java) ; Cynopterus brachyotis minutus (Nias Islands).

Countries: Native:
Cambodia; China; India (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu); Indonesia (Sulawesi, Sumatera); Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Singapore; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Vietnam


The lesser short-nosed fruit bat occurs in many different habitats, from pristine primary rainforests, to oil palm plantations, gardens and mangroves.


 Under favourable conditions, female lesser short-nosed fruit bats give birth to one pup twice each year, once between mid January and mid April, and again between mid June and early October. Pregnancy lasts between five and six months and the birth of the pups does not necessarily occur in time with flowering or fruiting . Females carry their pup in flight for the first few months of life, until it has learnt to fly with confidence. The young become sexually mature at seven months, and females will give birth to their first pup at just over 12 months old .

Lesser short-nosed fruit bats become active shortly after sunset and fly directly to fruiting trees up to 2 km away to feed on small fruits, including mangoes and figs, as well as on nectar. They fly around the trees several times before settling on the fruit , where they use claws on the first and second digits of the hands, as well as their strong feet, to cling on to bunches of fruit whilst feeding. As fruit bats do not echolocate, they must find their food using their large eyes and strong sense of smell. During the day, they return to their roosts under shaded trees, tree-ferns and near the entrances of caves . This species is a particularly important seed-disperser; it is a seasonal specialist, and over an annual fruiting cycle can consume the fruits of 54 species, the leaves of 14 species and the flower parts of four species. This species can be found from habitats ranging from orchards, gardens to forested tracts. It roosts in palms especially seed clusters of palms either solitary or in small groups of a few individuals in rural and urban landscapes and in forested areas. Bears a single young after a gestation period of 105-120 days (Bates and Harrison 1997). In South Asia, the species is believed to be more restricted to higher elevations when compared to C. sphinx, making it specifically a hill forest species.
Systems: Terrestrial

Major Threat(s):

There are no major threats to this species as a whole. In South Asia, this species is locally threatened by deforestation, generally resulting from logging operations and the conversion of land to agricultural and other uses (Molur et al. 2002).

Conservation Actions:

Other than further taxonomic studies, no conservation actions are currently needed for the species as a whole. It is present in many protected areas throughout its range. In South Asia, this species like most other fruit bats in India is considered a vermin under Schedule V of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act. The species has been recorded from protected areas in India like Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka and Kalakkad-Mundunthurai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu, and in Hakgalla National Park in Sri Lanka.