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Tube-nosed insectivorous bat

Tube-nosed insectivorous bat  Photo: M Mathieson

Tube-nosed insectivorous bat Photo: M Mathieson

Common name: tube-nosed insectivorous bat

Scientific name: Murina florium

Family: Vespertilionidae

Conservation status: This species is listed as Vulnerable in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992). It is ranked as a high priority under the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Back on Track species prioritisation framework.

Description: The tube-nosed insectivorous bat has three unusual features. Firstly, they have distinctive tubular nostrils that extend from the end of its nose and point sideways. Secondly, their wing membranes are attached to the end of their outer toes and their longer than usual thumbs. And thirdly, the lower edges of their ears are deeply notched. They weigh 7.9-9.1 g, and have long, grizzly fur that continues from the body to cover most of the tail membrane and the bones of the wings and legs.

Habitat and distribution

This species occurs within the wet tropics, and further north in the Iron Range on Cape York Peninsula. The limits to its distribution in Queensland are not well known. The distribution of this species extends through New Guinea and eastern Indonesia. It has been recorded from a range of rainforest types, and from rainforest with emergent Eucalytpus grandis (flooded gum), at altitudes from near sea level to 1200 m.

Life history and behaviour

Apart from its unusual features, the tube-nosed insectivorous bat is also distinctive in the way it roosts. All other bat species in the Family Vespertilionidae roost by holding their wings at their side. But the tube-nosed insectivorous bat wraps its wings around itself, like a flying-fox, with its wings held away from its chest to form a cloak. Additional cover is provided by tail membrane, which is curled over the rearwards section of wings. The function of this posture may be to prevent fur from becoming soaked with rain and reduce heat loss, and is possibly an adaptation to life in misty, mountain rainforests.

As with most micro bats, the tube-nosed insectivorous bat is nocturnally active. It has a slow, butterfly-like flight and faint echolocation call, which is typical of species that glean insects from close surfaces and in the air at close range. It also produces a distinctive call that is of a lower frequency and longer duration than normal echolocation calls, which may have a social function.

Threatening processes

The tube-nosed insectivorous bat is threatened by inappropriate fire regimes, which can destroy their forest habitat, and may also be threatened by habitat fragmentation and predation by feral cats (due to low roosts and the low flight of these bats).

Recovery actions

  • Encourage appropriate fire regimes in tube-nosed insectivorous bat habitat.
  • Prevent further fragmentation of habitat for tube-nosed insectivorous bat by conserving existing habitat corridors.
  • Investigate the extent of their distribution.

Related information

Duncan, A., Baker, G.B. and Montgomery, N. (Eds.). 1999. The Action Plan for Australian Bats. Environment Australia, Canberra.

Churchill, S. 2009. Australian bats (second edition). Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

Richards, G.C., Hall, L.S., Helman, P.M., & Churchill, S.K. 1982. First discovery of a species of the rare tube-nosed insectivorous bat (Murina) in Australia. Australian Mammalogy 5:149-151.

Richards, G.C. Coles, R.B. & Spencer, H.J. 1995. Tube-nosed insect bat Murina florium. In: The Mammals of Australia. (Ed. Strahan, R.), pp. 510-511. Reed Books: Chatswood, NSW.

Schulz, M. & Hannah, D. 1996. Notes on the tube-nosed insect bat Murina florium (Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae) from the Atherton Tableland, north-eastern Queensland, Australia. Mammalia 60:312-316.

Schulz, M. & Hannah, D. 1998. Relative abundance, diet & roost selection of the tube-nosed insect bat, Murina florium, on the Atherton Tablelands, Australia. Wildlife Research 25:261-271.

Last updated
30 August 2017