Eastern Sucker-footed Bat
(Myzopoda aurita)
This bat possesses unusual suction pads on its wrists and ankles that it uses to cling to smooth leaf surfaces while roosting. Little is known of its ecology. It is thought to prey primarily on small moths. It has been reported roosting in caves and in the fronds of the traveller's palm (Ravenala madagascariensis). Once believed to be extremely rare, recent studies have suggested that it is more common than previously thought. Further research is required to determine whether the loss of its forest habitat is having a negative effect on the species.
Urgent Conservation Actions
Further research into ecology, distribution and population status, so that appropriate conservation recommendations can be made.
Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Chiroptera
Family: Myzopodidae
The species was believed to be the sole representative of an entire family of bats (Myzopodidae) until a second species (Myzopoda schliemanni) was described in 2006. Individuals of the latter species are notably different in pelage (fur) colouration than M. aurita individuals. Both species posses a mixture of primitive and specialised features, suggestive of a long, isolated evolution from other bats.

The most distinctive feature of Old World sucker footed bats is the suction discs on the wrists and ankles that are used to cling to smooth leaf surfaces when roosting. The New World sucker-footed bats (Thyroptera spp.) also possess suction discs. However, the two genera are not closely related and the suction discs are very different in structure, suggesting that suckers evolved independently in the two genera (an example of convergent evolution).
Head and body length: 57 mm
Tail length: 48 mm
Forearm length: 46-50 mm
Weight: 8-10 g
This bat can be identified by the distinctive horseshoe-shaped suction pads on its wrists and ankles. The species has very large ears, with a unique mushroom-shaped process near the base of each ear. The fur is golden brown. The lips are wide and the upper lip extends beyond the lower lip. The thumb has a small vestigial claw. The tail extends beyond the tail membrane (uropatagium).
The bats are thought to use the suction pads to cling to smooth surfaces, such as the stems and leaves of palms. There are many glands on the surface of these pads, which produce secretions that may function as a kind of glue that helps the bats to hold on to smooth surfaces.

Little is known of the ecology of this species. It is insectivorous, and probably preys primarily on small moths (Microlepidoptera). It is thought to be closely associated with broad leaved plants – an individual was observed inside an uncoiled leaf of the Traveller’s tree (Ravenala madagascariensis) in 1947, and in 1995 a captive bat was reported roosting head up in such leaves. The Traveller’s tree has banana-like leaves, reaches 10–15m tall, often grows naturally in areas with moist ground. It is also one of the more important pioneering plants in heavily degraded habitats, particularly the eastern biome, after forest clearing and the successive passage of fire.
Individuals have been captured in relatively intact humid and littoral forests, agricultural areas, and near marsh habitats dominated by Ravenala. They do not appear to be restricted to cave roost sites.
During the Pleistocene the species occurred in both Madagascar and East Africa. It is now restricted to Madagascar, where it is known from a number of localities on the east coast (Maroantsetra, Mananara, Mahambo, Tamatave, Mananjary, and the northern vicinity of Fort Dauphin), and from Andasibe-Mantadia (Perinet) National park in the central-eastern part of the island. The species has also been recorded from the island of Nosy-Mangabe (Nosy-Mangabe Nature Reserve), off north-eastern Madagascar.

Population Estimate
Population Trend
Classified as Vulnerable (VU A2c) on the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, in the 2005 Global Mammal Assessment workshop in Antananarivo, Madagascar, it was provisionally classed as Least Concern because of its reported association with degraded habitats and unpublished accounts of high local population abundance.
Loss of forest is undoubtedly a threat. However, if the species roosts in Ravenala, its roost sites may be secure since this tree species is widespread in both primary and secondary forest.
Conservation Underway
No conservation measures are in currently place for this species. It has been reported from the vicinity of three protected areas: Parc National de Marojejy, Parc National de Masoala and Réserve Spéciale d’Andasibe.
Conservation Proposed
More information is needed to make conservation recommendations. The IUCN recommends that further research into the ecology, population numbers and range is needed, as well as legislation to protect the species, and communication and education programmes for local people.
Chiroptera Specialist Group 1996. Myzopoda aurita. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 17 November 2006.

Goodman, S. M., Andriafidison, D., Andrianaivoarivelo, R., Cardiff, S. G., Ifticene, E., Jenkins, R. K. B., Kofoky, A., Mbohoahy, T., Rakotondravony, D., Ranivo, J., Ratrimomanarivo, F., Razafimanahaka, J. and Racey, P. A. 2005. The distribution and conservation of bats in the dry regions of Madagascar. Animal Conservation 8: 153-165.

Goodman, S. M., Rakotondraparany, F. and Kofoky, A. The description of a new species of Myzopoda (Myzopodidae: Chiroptera) from Western Madagascar. Mammalian Biology 72(2) 65-81.

Hutson, A. M., Mickleburgh, S. P. and Racey, P. A. (Compilers). 2001. Microchiropteran Bats: Global Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Chiroptera Specialist Group. IUCN: Gland, Switzerland.

Kofoky, A. F., Andriafidison, D., Razafimanahaka, H. J., Rampilamanana, R. L. and Jenkins, R. K. B. 2006. The first observation of Myzopoda sp. (Myzopodidae) roosting in western Madagascar. African Bat Conservation News 9: 5-6.

Matveev, V. 2007 (pers. comm.).

Nowak, R.M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Sixth edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.

Russ, J., Bennett, D., Ross, K., and Kofoky, A.F. 2001. The bats of Madagascar: A field guide with descriptions of Echolocation calls. Viper Press.

Schliemann, H. and Maas, B. 1978. Myzopoda aurita. Mammalian Species 116: 1-2.

Distribution map based on data provided by the IUCN Global Mammal Assessment.

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