Wildlife photographer discovers Japan’s first-ever baby Alashanian pipistrelle while observing bats near a local school.

Japan has a number of unusual native species, like the Japanese Serow and the tanuki, but there are non-residential species that have made their way to Japan as well. For example, there’s a species of bat known as the Alashanian pipistrelle (Hypsugo alaschanicus) that is known to inhabit the mainlands of eastern Asia and Russia, but was only recently discovered in Japan, leading some to believe it is a migratory species.

The Alashanian pipistrelle is a rather large bat, with a 25-centimeter (9.8-inch) wingspan, but other than that not much is known about it, especially regarding its presence in Japan. In fact, up until now there had only been fifteen individuals of the species reported in the country, which had been found in the northern island of Hokkaido, Aomori Prefecture (at the northern tip of Japan’s main island of Honshu), and on Tsushima Island (off the coast of Nagasaki, in between Japan and Korea).

Since young Alashanian pipistrelle were not among the specimens found in Japan, it was widely theorized that these bats do not permanently reside on the Japanese islands and only migrate here from mainland Asia. But when a wildlife photographer found the body of a dead baby Alashanian pipistrelle near a school in Sapporo, it was discovered for the first time that this particular species of bat does, in fact, reproduce and reside in Japan.

Hiroaki Nakajima (@hirofoto on Twitter), the wildlife photographer, had started observing bats of an unknown species around the vicinity of the school in July 2017 after learning about their presence on an online forum. Two months later, while taking photos, he came upon the body of a dead bat and decided to bring it to the Doto Bat Research Center in Oozora Town for study. In March this year, after examining the bat’s teeth and other physical features, researchers came to the conclusion that the specimen was a young Alashanian pipistrelle, the first of its kind discovered in Japan.

The discovery is an exciting contribution to wildlife research in Japan, as now that scientists know that the Alashanian pipistrelle does inhabit the country, they can make more unified efforts to study them and learn more about their ecological and behavioral characteristics. With any luck and a little bit of time, hopefully more will come to be known about this elusive species!

And as a bonus, animal enthusiasts now have one more animal to add to the list of adorable animals native to Hokkaido, so we consider this discovery a win-win for everybody!

Source: Sankei News via My Game News Flash, Roost and echolocation call structure of the Alashanian pipistrelle
Hypsugo alaschanicus: first confirmation as a resident species in Japan (research study)
Featured image: Twitter/@hirofoto

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