Craseonycteridae – Hog-nosed bat

The family of the adorably named Bumblebee bat – the smallest bat and arguably the smallest of all the mammals!

Comprising the singular species known as the Kitti’s hog-nosed bat or bumblebee bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai), it stands out not only for its diminutive size but also for its rarity and distinctive ecological niche. Weighing in at a mere two grams at maturity, this species holds the title of the world’s smallest bat and is among the smallest of all mammals. Discovered in 1974 by Thai zoologist Kitti Thonglongya, after whom the species is named, these tiny bats have captivated the scientific community and conservationists alike due to their unique characteristics and the challenges posed by their conservation.

The Kitti’s hog-nosed bat is endemic to the limestone karst regions along the Kwai River drainage in western Thailand, with some populations also found in adjacent areas of Southeast Myanmar. Their highly specialized habitat — limestone caves — provides not only the roosting sites essential for their survival but also a controlled microclimate that supports their insect and spider prey. The bats live in small groups, typically comprising up to 20 individuals, which may help in maintaining social bonds and ensuring effective communication within these tight-knit communities.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Kitti’s hog-nosed bat’s anatomy is its broad wings, which, relative to its body size, enable it to hover in the air with a high degree of maneuverability. This adaptation is particularly beneficial for foraging in dense vegetation or in proximity to the cave entrances where they reside. Despite being tailless, these bats demonstrate an exceptional ability to navigate through their complex, three-dimensional environments, a testament to their evolutionary adaptations.

However, the very attributes that make the Kitti’s hog-nosed bat fascinating also contribute to its vulnerability. The specificity of its habitat requirements means that changes in its karst ecosystem, whether through mining, deforestation, or tourism, can have disproportionate impacts on its populations.