Taphozous melanopogonblack-bearded tomb bat

Geographic Range

Black bearded tomb bats live in Central India, Indochina, Thailand, Borneo, Burma, and the Philippines. Their range includes Indonesia, Bantam, and West Java, and they are occasionally found in the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, and Lombok. (Boonsong and McNeely, 1988; Kunz and Pierson, 1994; Lekagul and McNeely, 1988)


Black-bearded tomb bats are found in habitats including rainforests, woodlands, tombs, deserted buildings, rock formations, caverns, cliffs, and arid country plains. They prefer densely sheltered areas. They roost in groups ranging from 200 to 4000 individuals. (Kunz and Pierson, 1994; Lekagul and McNeely, 1988)

Physical Description

The coat of black-bearded tomb bats is quite variable dependent on its particular environment. It ranges from grayish to multi-brown or red variations. Hairs are typically white tipped, turning increasingly more red or brown towards the base. Fur is present on the tail (uropatagium) membrane. No throat sac is present, but a series of pores that open into the throat region is present where the sac would be located. Males have a black beard, which is believed to be seasonal. In the mating season, males produce a thick substance into the beard that is believed to be a form of pheromone to attract mate. The thick tail tapers to a slightly bulbous tip. The wings attach just above the ankles.

These bats are strong fliers that can reach recorded heights of 90 meters.

The dental formula is 1/2 1/1 2/2 3/3. (Kunz and Pierson, 1994; Lekagul and McNeely, 1988)

  • Range mass
    10 to 50 g
    0.35 to 1.76 oz
  • Range length
    70 to 80 mm
    2.76 to 3.15 in


Information on mating systems is not available.

The mating season lasts for only a few weeks in the winter. The female gives birth to one live infant sometime in early spring. (Hill and Smith, 1986; Kunz and Pierson, 1994; Lekagul and McNeely, 1988)

  • Breeding interval
    These animals breed once per year.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs during the winter.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 1
  • Range gestation period
    3 to 4 months
  • Range weaning age
    2 to 3 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    4 to 5 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    4 to 5 months

The young nurse for approximately 2 months, though they remain in their colony for life. A young reaches sexual maturity very quickly; young are able to fly and care for themselves as a nearly full grown adult by August-September. The care of the infant is the responsibility of the female. Weaning takes place when the young is around 2 to 3 months old. (Boonsong and McNeely, 1988; Hill and Smith, 1986; Kunz and Pierson, 1994)

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


Little is known about the longevity of these animals, but approximate ages for individuals vary from 5 to 20 years. Infant mortality within this species is particularly high. (Boonsong and McNeely, 1988; Kunz and Pierson, 1994)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    5 to 20 years


Within roosts males have been known to form a protective circle around the female and young. Each male has a particular area, which it occupies; this implies a social hierarchy in the colonies. In some cases there are strictly male or female colonies found in roosts (mainly after the mating season). These bats tend to scream a very piercing, high-pitched noise when being captured, in danger, or injured. (Boonsong and McNeely, 1988)

Home Range

The home range size of these bats has not been reported.

Communication and Perception

Information on the communication of these animals is not available. However, tactile communication is obviously important between mothers and their offspring. Some vocal and chemical communication probably occur and help mothers to identify their own offspring in the roost.

Food Habits

Taphozous melanopogon feeds primarily on flying insects, although it also sometimes feeds on small fruits. It hunts by echolocation, emitting a "click" or "tic" that can be faintly audible to humans. (Boonsong and McNeely, 1988)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit


There are not many predators of black bearded tomb bats. However, larger bats, crows, owls and monkeys have been known to prey upon this species.

Ecosystem Roles

Black-bearded tomb bats help control insect populations, and those that feed on fruit may pollinate plants or disperse seeds. (Kunz and Pierson, 1994)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
  • pollinates

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

These bats may have some economic importance to humans by helping to polinate crops and helping to control insect pests.

  • Positive Impacts
  • pollinates crops
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Black-bearded tomb bats are not known to have any negative impacts on humans.

Conservation Status

Though not endangered, black-bearded tomb bats areprotected by the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand. (Zoological Park Organization of Thailand, 2000)

Other Comments

Black bearded tomb bats are agile creatures. They cling to vertical surfaces, as well as effortlessly crawling up and down porous surfaces like rock walls and cave crevices. (Kunz and Pierson, 1994)


Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

James Lawrence (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Kate Teeter (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



uses sound to communicate


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.


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.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


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.


union of egg and spermatozoan


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


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.

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

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


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.


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


uses sight to communicate


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


2001. "Nipah Virus Infection in Bats (Order Chiroptera) in Peninsular Malaysia" (On-line). Accessed November 19, 2001 at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol7no3/yob.htm.

Boonsong, L., J. McNeely. 1988. Mammals of Thailand, Second Edition. Bangkok: Association for the Conservation of Wildlife.

Hill, J., J. Smith. 1986. Bats A Natural History. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Kunz, T., E. Pierson. 1994. Walker's Bats of the World. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Lekagul, B., J. McNeely. 1988. Mammals of Thailand 2nd Edition. Bangrak, Bangkok, Thailand: Saha Karn Bhaet Co..

Zoological Park Organization of Thailand, 2000. "Animals Protection Act" (On-line). Accessed November 19, 2001 at http://www.zoothailand.org/animals/protection_list.asp.