Barn Owl controlling Fruit Bats roosting on eaves of houses

on 8th July 2022

I was recently informed by Prof. Tan Teck Koon that the eaves of his house were once infested with roosting Common Fruit Bats (Cynopterus brachyotis). The colony numbered about 15 bats and there was one with a baby bat clinging onto the mother.

The bats would fly in and out of the roosting site in the evenings to cling onto the wooden eves, to sleep during the day. Once in a while one or more may end up inside the house. Often the bats brought with them fruits too large to manipulate in flight. This was at level three of the house, just outside his daughter’s room. Once, a young was found dead in the pond below, apparently it fell into it and drowned. Every morning the ground below had to be cleaned of bats’ droppings as well as bits and pieces of fruits. He tried to discourage the bats by various means but without success.

An image of the Barn Owl taken by a surprised Prof. Tan Teck Koon when it came to feed on the bats at his house.

One morning he heard a ruckus around where the bats were roosting. Rushing out to check, he was surprised when he came face to face with a large brown owl with a white face. It was causing panic among the roosting bats. He managed to take a few photos but unfortunately they were not very clear. However, he clearly remembers the face of the owl in the glare of his hand phone and identified the owl as a Barn Owl (Tyto alba) when shown an image of it (below).

An image of the Barn Owl by David Tan

Apparently the Barn Owl had been feasting on the roosting bats. The house is now free of bats.


Common Fruit Bats roosting on the eves of houses is common in Singapore HERE.


YC Wee


3rd July 2022



If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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