Murina suillabrown tube-nosed bat

Last updated:

Geographic Range

Murina suilla is found on the mainland and nearby islands of southeastern Asia. Its range includes the Malay Peninsula and the islands of Borneo, Sumatra, Java Nias and other smaller nearby islands. There are reports of this species from Sulawesi, the Peleng Islands, and New Guinea but they are outside of the accepted current distribution and are disputed. (Nowak, 1999; Wilson and Reeder, 2006)

Habitat

Brown tube-nosed bats are found in hilly areas of Southeast Asia. They may prefer areas near cultivated or grassy fields where they have been seen flying low, just over the tops of crops. Analysis of M. suilla echolocation calls suggest that they are well adapted to detecting insects in the highly cluttered forests of Southeast Asia. Members of the genus Murina have also been detected roosting in leaf litter, caves, and trees. They rarely found in habitats above 1000 meters. ("Biodiversity Information Sharing Service (BISS)", 2006; Kingston, et al., 1999; Kleiman, et al., 2004)

  • Range elevation
    1000 (high) m
    3280.84 (high) ft

Physical Description

Murina suilla has an average length of 3.3 to 6.0 cm with an average forearm length of 2.6 to 4.5 cm. The average weight of these bats is 3 to 5 grams. Brown tube-nosed bats have dark grayish brown fur. The underside of M. suilla is whitish and the flight membrane is brown. Polymorphism is not noted in this species. The entire family Vespertilionidae is generally known for its lack of nose ornaments and for a well developed tragus going to the base of the ear. The genus Murina is known for their tube-like nostrils. (Kleiman, et al., 2004; Nowak, 1999)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    3 to 5 g
    0.11 to 0.18 oz
  • Range length
    3.3 to 6.0 cm
    1.30 to 2.36 in

Reproduction

Nothing is currently known about mating behavior of brown tube-nosed bats.

There is little information about the general breeding behavior of brown tube-nosed bats. Females appear to gather in maternity roosts. A related species round-eared tube-nosed bats was documented on the Malay Peninsula carrying 2 fetuses, so twins may occur occasionally. ("Biodiversity Information Sharing Service (BISS)", 2006; Nowak, 1999; "Biodiversity Information Sharing Service (BISS)", 2006; Nowak, 1999; "Biodiversity Information Sharing Service (BISS)", 2006; Nowak, 1999)

  • Breeding interval
    Breeding intervals are unknown currently.
  • Breeding season
    Nothing known about seasonality of breeding.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    12 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    12 months

There is little information on parental investment in M. suilla. In most bat species, and presumably in M. suilla, female bats are solely responsible for rearing young. Females nurse their young until they are weaned. In most bat species weaning occurs around the time of independence, within a few months of birth.

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

There is no information on the lifespan of this species.

Behavior

Murina suilla has been observed flying low over crops and grasslands. Echolocation call characteristics suggest that it would be well suited to detect insects among foliage in dense forests. Other members of the genus Murina have been known to use leaf litter of cardamom plants and caves as roosting sites. (Nowak, 1999; Kingston, et al., 1999; Nowak, 1999; Kingston, et al., 1999; Kingston, et al., 1999; Nowak, 1999)

Home Range

There is no information about the home range of brown tube-nosed bats.

Communication and Perception

Brown tube-nosed bats primarily navigate through the use of echolocation but also detect visual cues. Murina suilla has a broad range of calls which helps these bats navigate through dense forest environments and catch prey in flight. Brown tube-nosed bats begin their echolocation calls with a frequency of about 165 kHz and end their calls with a frequency of about 55.2 kHz. These short calls of about 2 milliseconds may have reduced the need for visual cues when hunting and may have led to a reduction in the use of eyes in this species. Modes of communication are not well-understood in Murina species. Like most mammals they probably use chemical, tactile, and auditory cues in communication. (Kingston, et al., 1999)

Food Habits

The use of echolocation and the tooth morphology of M. suilla suggests that it is insectivorous. In addition, analysis of the calls used in echolocation by M. suilla suggests that these bats are adept at detecting insects in cluttered habitats. Brown tube-nosed bats are also quite maneuverable, which would be helpful for catching insects in flight. There is little information about the specific insects that are captured. (Kingston, et al., 1999; Kleiman, et al., 2004)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects

Predation

Because bats are both nocturnal and capable of flight, they avoid predation by many predators. However owls hunt bats at night and climbing snakes may prey on roosting bats. (Kleiman, et al., 2004)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Brown tube-nosed bats feed on insects and may play a role in keeping insect populations in check. The impact on insect numbers is difficult to determine because it may be underepresented due to biases in censusing methods. Mist nets which have been used in the past are usually avoided by these maneuverable bats. Harp traps are more efficient at catching brown tube-nosed bats. Future censusing using harp nets would better demonstrate the effect that M. suilla has on its ecosystem. (Kleiman, et al., 2004; Kingston, et al., 1999; Kingston, et al., 1999; Kleiman, et al., 2004; Kingston, et al., 1999; Kleiman, et al., 2004)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Humans benefit from M. suilla from its diet of insects. This may be important for protecting agricultural crops and reducing threats of insect borne pathogens. The full effect of brown tube-nosed bats on insect populations may be underepresented due to census bias. (Kingston, et al., 1999; Kleiman, et al., 2004)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

No negative impacts have been documented, although bat species are sometimes implicated in the transmission of rabies and other diseases.

  • Negative Impacts
  • injures humans
    • carries human disease

Conservation Status

Murina suilla appears to be at low risk of extinction. Habitat degradation is one of the factors which have been causing declines in populations of other bat species in the area. Oil palm plantation growth may pose a future threat to the species. ("Biodiversity Information Sharing Service (BISS)", 2006; Wilson and Reeder, 2006)

Other Comments

Murina suilla includes the synonymous names Murina balstoni Thomas 1908 and Murina canescens Thomas 1923. There are many common names for M. suilla including brown murine bats, and lesser tube-nosed bats. ("Biodiversity Information Sharing Service (BISS)", 2006; Nowak, 1999; Wilson and Reeder, 2006)

Contributors

Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Kevin Chandler (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Glossary

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

agricultural

living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

echolocation

The process by which an animal locates itself with respect to other animals and objects by emitting sound waves and sensing the pattern of the reflected sound waves.

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

2006. "Biodiversity Information Sharing Service (BISS)" (On-line). Asean Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation. Accessed December 01, 2006 at http://arcbc.org/cgi-bin/abiss.exe/spd?SID=917588538&spd=14135&tx=MA&iso3=MYS.

Wildscreen. 2006. "Brown tube-nosed bat (Murina suilla)" (On-line). Arkive. Accessed December 01, 2006 at http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/mammals/Murina_suilla/more_info.html.

Kingston, T., G. Jones, Z. Akbar, T. Kunz. 1999. Echolocation Signal Design in Kerivoulinae and Murininae (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) from Malaysia. Journal of Zoology; Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, Volume 249/ Issue 03: 359-374.

Kleiman, D., V. Geist, M. McDade. 2004. Vespertillionid Bats II. Pp. 524 in D Kleiman, V Geist, M McDade, eds. Grzimek's Aniamal Life History, Vol. 13, Second Edition. Farmingon Hills, MI: Gale.

Nowak, R. 1999. Tube-Nosed Insectivorous Bats. Pp. 463-464 in R Nowak, ed. Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. Volume I, Sixth Edition Edition. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins Univeristy Press.

Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 2006. Chiroptera. Pp. 230 in D Wilson, ed. Mammal Species of the World A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Vol. Volume I, Third Edition Edition. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins Univeristy Press.