Christmas Island pipistrelle

species of mammal

The Christmas Island pipistrelle (Pipistrellus murrayi) was a species of bat in the Vespertilionidae family. Biologists believe the bat became extinct on 27 August 2009.[1]

Christmas Island pipistrelle
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Pipistrellus murrayi
(Andrews, 1900)

Pipistrellus tenuis murrayi Koopman 1973, 1993

It was a small bat (it weighed 3 to 4.5 grams or 0.11 to 0.16 ounces), and lived only on Christmas Island, Australia.[2][3] It was thought to be the same as the Pipistrellus tenuis,[4][5] but research on the bat's baculum (a penis bone) showed that Pipistrellus murrayi was a different species.[6][7]


The numbers of Christmas Island Pipistrelle bats had dropped a lot in the last 20 years.[8] It had once been seen all over the island, including in the Settlement.[9] It went from at least 80% of its living range, and its numbers had dropped more than 90% since 1994.[8] Research into the number of bats in January 2009, shows there were only about 20 bats left. The only known group resting place had only four bats. The last bat call was heard on 26 August 2009.[10]

Cause of declineEdit

Scientists do not know why the Christmas Island Pipistrelle's numbers dropped. Several possible threats may have been:

  • being eaten
  • disturbed at their resting spots
  • an unknown disease.[8]

A number of animals brought to Christmas Island could be the problem:

Saving the pipistrelleEdit

Early in 2009, the Australian Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, stopped scientists from trying to set up a captive breeding program. He said that the bats were too hard to catch, and no one knew how to keep them alive in cages. Instead, he announced a program to breed a similar bat in the Northern Territory of Australia. Scientists would learn about caring and breeding bats, then use this information to save the Christmas Island Pipistrelle.[11] Other scientists had said this would take too long, and the bats would become extinct.[12] Scientists believed that by June 2009 there were only four of the bats left in the world.[13] In July 2009, the Australian Government changed its earlier decision and said that it would try to capture the last of the bats and use them to try and breed more bats in captivity.[14] During August and September 2009 scientists searched for the remaining bats to catch them and protect them. At the end of August only one bat had been heard. Scientists tried to catch this bat, but it has not been heard from since the night of 26 August. It is now believed that the bat is extinct.[15] This may be one of the few times that the extinction of a species in the wild can be known to the exact day.[1] Scientists will continue to search for the bat, but there has been no signs of the bat since.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Pipistrellus murrayi (Christmas Island Pipistrelle)". 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  2. Schulz M. & Lumsden L. 2004. National recovery plan for the Christmas Island pipistrelle Pipistrellus murrayi. Department of Environment and Heritage. ISBN 0-642-55012-3 [1][permanent dead link]
  3. van Dyck S. & Strahan R. (eds) 2008. The mammals of Australia.
  4. Koopman K.F. 1973. Systematics of Indo-Australian pipistrelles. Periodicum Biologorum 75, 113-116.
  5. Koopman K.F. 1993. Order Chiroptera. 137-241 in: Wilson D.E. & Reeder D.M. (eds) Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C.
  6. Kitchener D.J; Caputi N. & Jones B. 1986. "Revision of the Australo-Papuan Pipistrellus and Falsistrellus (Microchiroptera: Vespertilionidae)". Records of Western Australian Museum 12, 435-495.
  7. Hill J.E. & Harrison D.L. 1987. "The baculum in the Vespertilioninae (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) with a systematic review, a synopsis of Pipistrellus and Eptesicus, and the descriptions of a new genus and subgenus". Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Zoology 52, 225-305.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Lumsden L. et al. (2007). Investigation of threats to the Christmas Island Pipistrelle. A report to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Heidelberg, Victoria. p.?
  9. Tidemann, C. 1985. "A study of the status, habitat requirements and management of the two species of bats on Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)". Report to Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra. p.?
  10. McLeonard, Keiren (6 September 2011). "Australia's latest mammal extinction - the pipistrelle". Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  11. McLeod, Shane. "Garrett goes in to bat for endangered pipistrelle - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 2009-02-19.
  12. Lumsden, Lindy. "The Christmas Island Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus murrayi)". Archived from the original on 2009-09-13. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
  13. "Pipistrelle mini-bats facing extinction". Retrieved 2009-07-01 – via The Daily Telegraph.
  14. "Moves to save Christmas Island bats - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 2009-07-01.
  15. Beeton, Bob (1 April 2010). "FINAL REPORT OF THE CHRISTMAS ISLAND EXPERT WORKING GROUP TO THE MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION, HERITAGE AND THE ARTS" (PDF). Department of Environment, Protection, Heritage and the Arts. Retrieved 3 December 2010.