Brown tube-nosed bat (Murina suilla)

Front view of a brown tube-nosed bat
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Brown tube-nosed bat fact file

Brown tube-nosed bat description

GenusMurina (1)

Characterised by a simple nose with tube-shaped nostrils, this tiny member of the Vespertilionidae family (the evening bats) has long, fuzzy brown fur, tending to grey-brown on the sides and belly (2). The body is compact and the skin is capacious, allowing the bat to wriggle free of a predator’s grip (3). Whilst all bats possess wings formed from a double membrane stretched between the elongated fingers, the evening bats also have a membrane stretched between their ankles and nearly enclosing the tail, known as the interfemoral membrane (4). This membrane is unusually furry in the brown tube-nosed bat. Whilst this species finds its insect prey using echolocation, its ears are small for its size. As the brown tube-nosed bat holds its mouth open much of the time in order to echolocate, it is easy to see its large, sharp teeth, used to crush hard-bodied insects (3).

Also known as
Lesser tube-nosed bat.
Murina balstoni, Murina canescens.
Head-and-body length: 32 – 42 mm (2)
Forearm length: 25 – 32 mm (2)
2.5 – 5.5 g (2)

Brown tube-nosed bat biology

With a small body and short, rounded wings, the brown tube-nosed bat has a high degree of flight control, enabling it to pass nimbly amongst the leaves and branches of the forest. It feeds on flying insects, detecting their presence with ultrasonic shouts of around 85 kHz. Listening for the returning echo of their shouts, the bat is able to distinguish an insect from its surroundings, using such detail as the movement of its tiny beating wings. As it approaches the insect the speed of its echolocation pulses quickens, to give pinpoint precision for the capture of its prey (3).

During the breeding season, female brown tube-nosed bats gather into small groups called maternity roosts. Each female gives birth to a single pup that can weigh up to a quarter of her weight. Initially, the young pup clings to its mother’s belly when on foraging flights, but soon learns to fly alone and capture insects itself. A year after birth the young become sexually mature and will mate (3).


Brown tube-nosed bat range

This species is found only on Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, much of Indonesia (Java, Sumatra, and possibly Sulawesi), Nias Island, Peleng Island and New Guinea (2) (5).


Brown tube-nosed bat habitat

This highly manoeuvrable bat occupies the densely vegetated understorey of lowland dipterocarp forest (6).


Brown tube-nosed bat status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Brown tube-nosed bat threats

The rapid increase in oil palm plantations has resulted in extensive loss of primary forest. Together, Malaysia and Indonesia export 88% of the world’s palm oil, for use in products such as margarine, lipstick and detergent. Deforestation continues at a steady rate for conversion to agricultural land and building communities. Despite the contribution of many bats in the control of insect crop pests, persecution of bats is also a threat (7).


Brown tube-nosed bat conservation

Deforestation of primary forest for oil palm plantations, including within protected areas, is an issue of major concern and one that relies on both governmental and consumer action. Some large retailers have agreed, in collaboration with the WWF, to source products containing palm oil from plantations that are not on deforested land (7). Many scientific and charitable groups contribute to bat monitoring and local education programmes that can help to reduce persecution and raise awareness of the natural assets of the land (3).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For more information on the brown tube-nosed bat see:

Altringham, J. (2001) Bats: Biology and Behaviour. Oxford University Press, Oxford.



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:


A family of resinous trees that are found in the old world tropics.
Detecting objects by reflected sound. Used for orientation and detecting and locating prey by bats and cetaceans (whales and dolphins).
Sounds that are above the range of human hearing.


  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2009)
  2. Corbet, G.B. and Hill, J.E. (1992) The Mammals of the Indomalayan Region: a systematic review. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. Maltby, A. (2005) Pers. comm.
  4. Altringham, J. (2001) Bats: Biology and Behaviour. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Nor, S. (1996) The Mammalian Fauna on the islands at the Nortern Tip of Sabah, Borneo. Fieldiana – Zoology, 83: 17 - 28.
  6. Kingston, T., Jones, G., Akbar, Z. and Kunz, T.H. (1999) Echolocation signal design in Kerivoulinae and Murininae from Malaysia. Journal of Zoology, 249: 359 - 374.
  7. Europa World (January, 2005)

Image credit

Front view of a brown tube-nosed bat  
Front view of a brown tube-nosed bat

© Alanna Collen

Alanna Collen


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