Tylonycteris robustula


Greater Bamboo Bat

Morphological description Life history Distribution Habitat Roost sites and roosting patterns Emergence and flight pattern Foraging behaviour Echolocation calls Status and protection

Tylonycteris robustula


Morphological Description

· The larger of two sibling species of bamboo bats found in China.

· 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 digitoplantar (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 species is also found in north-east India to Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines (Bates & Harrison 1997). The Chinese distribution is shown by dots on the map (as given by Zhang et al. (1997).



· Woodland and bamboo forests are typical habitat.

· In Guangxi, this bat live around villages.

Roost sites and roosting behaviour

· This bat does not hibernate, roosting within internodes of bamboo through the whole year.

· Lives sympatrically with T. pachypus, but rarely roosts together within the same internode at the same time.

Emergence and flight pattern

· Emerges twice each night in dawn and dusk, normally foraging about twenty minutes each bout.

· Flight is relatively slow, with high manoeuvrability. Can hover briefly in front of bamboos, but not as long as T. pachypus can.

· Wing span averaged 195 cm, wing area 5904 mm2, wing loading 7.7 Nm-2, aspect ratio 6.5 (Zhang et al. 2006).

Foraging behaviour

· Forages around trees and houses, along pathways through the bamboo forest and/or outside the forest, over the bamboo forest. An 'edge' species, though forages in less complex habitats than the smaller and less heavily loaded T. pachypus. Flight speed estimated at 4.8 m/s (Zhang et al. 2006).

· The diet mainly consists of Hymenoptera (62.3% by volume), and Diptera (29.6% by volume). Small quantities of Coleoptera and Hemiptera were found with traces of Orthoptera, Trichoptera and Ephemeroptera (Zhang et al., 2005b). Has a wider food-niche breadth than T. pachypus, and eats larger prey than that species (Zhang et al., 2005b).

Echolocation calls

Average values for greater bamboo bat echolocation calls, as given by Zhang et al.( 2006), are listed below:

Interpulse interval: 61.3 ms

Call duration: 3.9 ms

Minimum frequency: 47.2 kHz

Maximum frequency: 100.1 kHz

The spectrogram shows clear frequency modulation, with the call beginning at high frequency and ending at a lower frequency, and ending with a more narrowband tail at times.

Analysis of power spectra shows that the maximum power of the call is at a frequency of approximately 57.7 kHz.

waveform and spectrogram

The development of vocalizations in infants is described by Zhang et al. (2005a). Vocalizations serve as precursors of echolocation calls and as isolation calls, and mothers also produce directive calls when searching for infants.

Status and protection

· There is no estimation of population size in China for this species.

· Greater bamboo bats are at LR/lc, assessed by the Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN, 2006) and are not listed in the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Wildlife in 1989. Widespread on a global scale and locally common in places.

· Bamboo forests should be protected as their habitats.

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