Bats - Why We Need Them!
© Frances Michaels
Bats suffer from a bad press. Our general ignorance of these fascinating creatures and of the big differences
in the feeding habits of macro and micro-bats means we miss out on the benefits of sharing our organic gardens
and farms with micro bats.
Micro-bats or insectivorous bats cover a range of species with approximately 63 species in Australia, 35 of
which are a threatened species. Micro bats are very small animals; the largest species only grow to a length
of approximately 11 cm and range in weight from 3 g to 150 g when fully grown.
Micro-bats are nocturnal creatures and can often be seen at dusk flickering around busily. The micro-bat can
eat about a third of its own body weight in insects every night and in many parts of the world organic farmers
install bat boxes throughout their farms to encourage this natural form of pest control. Micro-bats are capable
of catching up to 500 insects per hour, an average of 1 every 7 seconds. Under controlled conditions a Myotis
bat (a small insectivorous bat which lives near waterways) has been recorded capturing 1200 tiny fruit flies
in one hour, which is one every three seconds.
Micro-bats are voracious predators of mosquitoes. Bat boxes are an environmentally responsible answer to the
spread of dangerous mosquito-borne diseases such as Ross River virus, dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis.
Micro-bats remain airborne for hours at a time. To catch insects that are not flying, some bats will use a
special technique called 'gleaning' to pluck insects off leaves or the ground. Some bats will perch on
branches or on the ground and listen for the sounds of moving insects before attacking.
Many of the Micro-bats will change roost sites daily within their home range and so need a range of roost
sites available. As old hollow habitat trees have disappeared from the environment the risk of extinction
for micro-bats has increased. In many areas they have disappeared altogether.
With such an abundance of species in South East Queensland it is not uncommon to find an injured bat.
Powerlines, windows or barbed wire fences all cause injuries. If you find a sick, injured or orphaned bat,
do not touch it. Contact your local wildlife care organisation or the EPA / QPWS hotline on 1300 130 372
(in north Queensland you will need to contact your local EPA / QPWS office). They will put you in contact
with a licensed and fully vaccinated wildlife rescuer who is trained to handle and care for wildlife.
Catching diseases from bats is extremely unlikely. Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL) can only be caught from
untreated bites or scratches from infected bats.
Hollow Log Homes - Wildlife Boxes
Nest boxes for wildlife: design, education, installation, research and monitoring.
PO Box 144 Kenilworth Qld 4574
Ph 07 54723142
Fax 07 54460073
The Australasian Bat Society Inc.
Queensland Government information about Micro-bats...