Pipistrellus tenuisleast pipistrelle

Geographic Range

Least pipistrelles (Pipistrellus tenuis) are found throughout south and southeast Asia, from Afghanistan to China. THey are also found in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Borneo, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, and Indonesia. (Francis, et al., 2010)


Least Pipistrelles are found in a variety of habitats including forests, rural areas and urban areas. They inhabit secondary hill, montane or montane mossy forests in southeast Asia, in zones ranging from arid to humid. They roost in trees, leafy canopies, and in the walls or ceilings of buildings. They have been observed at elevations ranging from 800 to 1700 m above sea level. (Francis, et al., 2010)

  • Other Habitat Features
  • urban
  • caves
  • Range elevation
    800 to 1700 m
    2624.67 to 5577.43 ft

Physical Description

Pipistrellus tenuis is a very small bat, ranging in length from 69 to 77 mm in length and ranging in mass from 3.2 to 4.2 g. It has dark brown fur, transitioning to paler fur on the venter. It has a broad muzzle and the ear and tragus are relatively short when compared to other species in this genus. Sexual dimorphism has not been reported in this species. (Francis, et al., 2010)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    3.2 to 4.2 g
    0.11 to 0.15 oz
  • Range length
    69 to 77 mm
    2.72 to 3.03 in


There is no information available regarding the mating system of Pipistrellus tenuis. Two separate breeding seasons exist for this species: one which occurs during February and March, and the other which occurs during July and August. These breeding seasons generally produce between one and three offspring. A close relative of P. tenuis, Pipestrellus pipestrellus, is known to form maternity roosts, with breeding males defending territories. Courtship in P. pipistrellus includes specific flight patterns and olfactory cues, including pheromones produced by males. A trait common to bats in the family Vespertilionidae is delayed fertilization, which allows the female to postpone fertilization until well after mating, thus allowing births to be precisely timed to occur when resources are plentiful. ("Vesper Bats", 2011; Francis, et al., 2010; Russ, et al., 2005)

There is limited information available regarding the reproductive behavior of Pipistrellus tenuis. It breeds for two months at a time, twice a year from February to March and from July to August. Number of offspring per breeding cycle ranges from 1 to 3 pups, with an average of 2. The closely related Pipistrellus subflavus has a gestational period that lasts 44 days. Pipistrellus subflavus pups have an average birth weight of 1.8 g and are weaned by 4 weeks of age and become independent between 4 and 5 weeks of age. Pipistrellus subflavus reaches sexual maturity between 3 and 11 months of age. (Fujita and Kunz, 1984; Hoying and Kunz, 1998)

  • Breeding interval
    P. tenuis breeds for two months at a time, twice a year.
  • Breeding season
    February-March and July-August
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 3

There is no information available regarding parental care in Pipistrellus tenuis, however, the closely related Pipistrellus subflavus has been observed moving young between roost sites and is also known to fly with young during foraging bouts. (Fujita and Kunz, 1984)


The lifespan of Pipistrellus tenuis has not been undocumented; however, the lifespan of Pipistrellus subflavus ranges from 4 to 8 years in the wild and Pipistrellus murrayi lives 8 years on average in the wild. ("Pipistrellus murrayi", 2011; Nowak, 1999)


There is little information available regarding the general behavior of Pipistrellus tenuis. Its flight motions are often described as "jerky" and have been likened to those of flying insects. Each night, P. tenuis flies a pre-established route in order to forage for insects. Like other New World bats, P. tenuis uses echolocation to find prey and is nocturnal. ("Vesper Bats", 2011; Francis, et al., 2010)

Home Range

The average home range size of Pipistrellus tenuis is unknown. However, other members of this genus demonstrate considerable variation in home range size. For example, Pipistrellus pipistrellus has an observed home range of 1,526 ha, while P. pygmaeus has an average home range size of 487 ha. Both species change roost sites on a regular basis. (Nicholls and Racey, 2006)

Communication and Perception

There is no information available regarding communication in Pipistrellus tenuis. The closely related Pipistrellus subflavus is known to communicate with young using a variety of clicks and tones. In addition, Pipistrellus pygmaeus exhibits distress through vocal signals. Pipistrellus tenuis perceives its immediate environment via echolocation and olfactory cues. In general, bats have reduced vision. (Fujita and Kunz, 1984; Hoying and Kunz, 1998; Russ, et al., 2005)

Food Habits

Pipistrellus tenuis is an insectivore, feeding on a wide variety of insects including coleopterans, hymenopterans, dipterans and lepidopterans. It uses echolocation to hunt its prey and sometimes is observed using its wings to bat its prey down before catching it in its mouth. (Francis, et al., 2010)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects


There are known predators of Pipistrellus tenuis. In urban settings this species is sometimes viewed as a pest and may be killed by humans. Its nocturnal nature likely helps reduce risk of predation. ("Pipistrellus murrayi", 2011; Francis, et al., 2010)

Ecosystem Roles

As an insectivore, Pipistrellus tenuis likely helps controls insect pest populations throughout its geographic range. Parasites of this species have not been documented.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

As an insectivore, Pipistrellus tenuis helps controls insect pest populations, which likely helps reduce insect induced crop damage and disease transmission rates from insects to humans.

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

In urban and suburban settings, Pipistrellus tenuis is known to roost in the walls and ceilings of buildings. As a result, this species can cause a great deal of damage to the buildings it roosts in.

  • Negative Impacts
  • household pest

Conservation Status

Pipistrellus tenuis is classified as a species of least concern on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. This species is locally abundant throughout its geographic range and there appear to be no major threats to its long-term persistence. (Francis, et al., 2010)


Jenna Larson (author), Michigan State University, Barbara Lundrigan (editor), Michigan State University, John Berini (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



uses sound to communicate

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.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.


active at dawn and dusk

delayed fertilization

a substantial delay (longer than the minimum time required for sperm to travel to the egg) takes place between copulation and fertilization, used to describe female sperm storage.


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.


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.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


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


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


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).


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.


active during the night


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

World Map

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


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


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


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


uses sound above the range of human hearing for either navigation or communication or both


living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.


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


2011. "Pipistrellus murrayi" (On-line). Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Accessed March 14, 2011 at http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=64383#life_cycle.

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Hoying, K., T. Kunz. 1998. Variation in size at birth and post-natal growth in the insectivorous bat Pipistrellus subflavus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae). Journal of Zoology London, 245: 15-27. Accessed April 18, 2011 at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1998.tb00067.x/pdf.

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Nicholls, B., P. Racey. 2006. Contrasting home-range size and spatial partitioning in cryptic and sympatric pipistrelle bats. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 61: 131-142. Accessed April 12, 2011 at http://www.springerlink.com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/content/f3q6086126gx4155/fulltext.pdf.

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Russ, J., G. Jones, P. Racey. 2005. Responses of soprano pipistrelles, Pipistrellus pygmaeus, to their experimentally modified distress calls. Animal Behaviour, 70: 397-404. Accessed April 18, 2011 at http://www.sciencedirect.com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/science?_ob=MImg&_imagekey=B6W9W-4G7JXV9-1-3&_cdi=6693&_user=1111158&_pii=S0003347205001223&_origin=gateway&_coverDate=08%2F01%2F2005&_sk=999299997&view=c&wchp=dGLzVzz-zSkWb&md5=cbc2b9220175803f226bedfc0bc3396d&ie=/sdarticle.pdf.

Temminck, 2011. "Pipestrellus (Pipistrellus) tenuis" (On-line). Mammal species of the World. Accessed March 12, 2011 at http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?s=y&id=13802115.

Whitaker, J. 1998. Life History and Roost Switching in Six Summer Colonies of Eastern Pipistrelles. Journal of Mammalogy, 79: 651-659. Accessed April 12, 2011 at http://www.jstor.org.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/stable/pdfplus/1382995.pdf?acceptTC=true.