Krabi Nature - tours of Thailand's finest wildlife and natural wilderness.

6 Krabi Bats You May See in 2024 (Includes Flying Fox!)

There are over 100 species of bats across Thailand. The following six species can be found in and around Krabi in the South of Thailand.

The most interesting bat you can see in Krabi when you come for a visit is the massive Flying Fox.

Large flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus)

These gigantic bats are the largest bats in the world. They can span 1.5 meters (59 inches) across from wingtip to wingtip. They can be found above high trees at night in groups of sometimes many thousand. From Railay Beach in Krabi on the coast, it is sometimes possible to see a large group of these bats fly out of the caves and trees and hit the open sky at sunset. It’s a fascinating sight!

We’ve already told you how big they get, but their weight can be up to 1.2 kilograms (2.6 lb.) as well. This is a lot for a bat!

Are they Dangerous?

Though these large flying foxes look dangerous and evil and are named after a ‘vampire’, they are not harmful to people and never attack us.

Their diet consists of fruit from mostly from trees in the Pterocarpus family. They also eat nectar, pollen, and leaves. The term for them is frugivorous (fruit eaters). They play an important role in nature as they disperse seeds from these fruits far and wide.

Where Do These Bats Sleep?

Flying fox roosting in a forest, hanging from a palm tree.

The area where bats sleep and ‘live’ is called a roost.

Large flying foxes are highly social and live in large colonies that may reach even millions of bats! They like roosting in tall trees, especially in areas close to water sources, such as riverbanks or coastal regions like here in Krabi, Phang Nga, and Phuket. They can also stay in urban areas, like gardens or parks with high trees.

In the roosting areas it is common for locals to gather their guano (feces) to use as fertilizers for their crops.

What Conservation Issues Do Flying Foxes Have?

The large flying fox faces some conservation challenges due to habitat loss, hunting, and conflicts with humans. In Southern Thailand like Krabi, as well as in other parts of their range, conservation efforts are crucial to protect these important pollinators and seed dispersers.

Many farmers view them as pests and shoot at them or try to net these big bats. Some people eat them. Another threat is they are also vulnerable to habitat destruction and human disturbances. Both of these have led to population declines in the flying foxes in some areas.

Where Can Flying Foxes Be Found?

Flying foxes are found in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, Australia, and some oceanic islands. That’s a lot of the planet! Here are some specific locations you can find them.

South Asia – India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives
Southeast Asia – Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei
East Africa – Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique
Australia – Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia
Oceanic islands – Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius, Rodrigues, Comoros, Maldives

Additional Facts about Flying Foxes

  • We see them in Krabi about once every 5 times we go out looking at night. So we don’t target them as the reason for an entire field trip, but it’s always a nice bonus when we find them.
  • They have a fox-like face, hence the name “flying fox.”
  • They have large ears that help them to navigate and find food.
  • They have a keen sense of smell, which they use to find food and locate mates.
  • They are nocturnal, which means they are active at night.
  • They are excellent fliers and can travel long distances in search of food.
  • They can also be a nuisance, as they can damage fruit crops and spread diseases.

Other Common Bats in Krabi

Lesser Short-nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus brachyotis)

Size – Approximately 8-10 cm in length.
Weight – Usually weighs between 20-35 grams.
Diet – Frugivorous, primarily consuming a wide variety of fruits and nectar from plants.
Roosting – They often form colonies in trees, especially in fruiting trees, and may also roost in urban areas, like roofs or buildings.

Wrinkle-lipped Free-tailed Bat (Chaerephon plicatus):

Size – Approximately 10-12 cm in length.
Weight – Typically weighs around 15-25 grams.
Diet – Insectivorous, primarily feeding on insects such as moths, beetles, and flying ants.
Roosting – They usually roost in caves, tree hollows, and sometimes in buildings or man-made structures.

Large-eared Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus philippinensis)

Size – Approximately 6-8 cm in length.
Weight – Typically weighs around 10-15 grams.
Diet – Insectivorous, feeding on insects like moths, flies, and beetles.
Roosting – They often roost in caves, but can also be found in old buildings or abandoned mines.

Schneider’s Leaf-nosed Bat (Hipposideros speoris):

Size – Approximately 6-7 cm in length.
Weight – Usually weighs between 10-15 grams.
Diet – Insectivorous, primarily feeding on insects like moths, beetles, and spiders.
Roosting – They roost in caves, tree hollows, and sometimes in buildings or man-made structures.

Wrinkle-lipped Bat (Tadarida plicata):

Size – Approximately – 10-11 cm in length.
Weight – Typically weighs around 20-30 grams.
Diet – Insectivorous, primarily feeding on insects such as moths, beetles, and flying ants.
Roosting – They are known for their large colonies and often roost in caves, but they can also be found in buildings or other structures.