Japanese noctule (Nyctalus furvus)

Japanese noctule
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Japanese noctule fact file

Japanese noctule description

GenusNyctalus (1)

The enigmatic Japanese noctule (Nyctalus furvus) is a small, poorly understood species of bat from Japan (2). It belongs to the Vespertilionidae family, a large group of over 308 bat species also known as the vesper bats (3).

Very little information exists on the elusive Japanese noctule, but, like other vesper bats, it has a well-developed tail and minute eyes. The ears are widely separated on the head and possess a tragus. The fur may be golden brown, yellowish-brown or dark brown on the upperparts, and a paler brown on the underparts (4).


Japanese noctule biology

The Japanese noctule is an insectivorous species (4). Although little is known of the specific diet of the Japanese noctule, it is likely to be similar to that of closely related bats. Noctule bats (Nyctalus species) are typically fond of beetles, catching them midflight (4) (7), but they may also eat moths, winged ants and other insects (4). Noctule bats typically hunt for prey during flights just before sunrise and in the early evening (4).

Bats in the Vespertilionidae family typically mate in the autumn, prior to hibernation. The sperm remains viable in the oviduct of the female, until the female is aroused from hibernation in early spring, when the female ovulates and fertilisation then occurs (8).

Pregnant females often roost together in large colonies of up to 400 individuals, while the males roost separately (4). Each female bat gives birth between 1 and 3 young in the spring (4), after a gestation period of 70 to 75 days (4). Bats in the Vespertilionidae family can live for up to 30 years (9).


Japanese noctule range

As its name suggests, the Japanese noctule is only found in Japan. It occurs in four separate populations (1), all of which are located in the north of Honshu (5), the largest island of Japan.


Japanese noctule habitat

The Japanese noctule inhabits primary forest. It typically roosts in tree hollows, although one colony was found in a building (1). The island of Honshu has a mainly subtropical climate, although the northern extremity has snowy winters (6).


Japanese noctule status

The Japanese noctule is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Japanese noctule threats

Although accurate information on the Japanese noctule population is lacking, numbers are thought to be in decline (1). This species faces the threat of deforestation for logging, agriculture and conifer plantations, as well as for the general development of infrastructure in the region (1).


Japanese noctule conservation

There are no known conservation measures currently in place for the Japanese noctule.


Find out more

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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:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


The fusion of gametes (male and female reproductive cells) to produce an embryo, which grows into a new individual.
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
A winter survival strategy characteristic of some mammals in which an animal’s metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. Whilst hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer.
Feeds primarily on insects.
In female mammals, ovulation is the release of a ripe egg from an ovary (one of the paired reproductive organs).
Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
A soft cartilaginous projection extending in front of the external opening of the ear. In bats, it plays an important role in filtering returning echoes in echolocation.


  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
  2. Maeda, K. (1972) Growth and development of large noctule, Nyctalus lasiopterus Schreber. Mammalia, 36: 269-278.
  3. Macdonald, D.W. (2001) New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  5. Wilson, D.E. and Reeder, D.M. (2005) Mammal Species of the World: a Taxonomic and Geographical Reference. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  6. Maps of the World (November, 2010)
  7. Allen, G.M. (2004) Bats: Biology, Behaviour and Folklore. Dover Publications, USA.
  8. Jameson, E.W. and Peeters, H.J. (1988) California Mammals. University of California Press, California.
  9. Burton, M. and Burton, R. (2002) The International Wildlife Encyclopedia. Marshall Cavendish Corporation, New York.

Image credit

Japanese noctule  
Japanese noctule

© Mr. Mitsuru Mukohyama

Mitsuru Mukohyama


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