Have you ever wished you could fly?
While humans will always need assistance to take to the sky bats have the ‘superpower’ of sustained flight.
Like us, bats are warm blooded placental mammals who feed their babies milk. They have the same senses as we do, and a similar basic body plan except they have a few genetic tweaks that have produced a useful set of wings instead of hands.
When we think bats we imagine thousands of fruit bats roosting along the river bank, or silhouetted against the evening sky. These bats are the landscape architects of our forests and their vitally important pollination, tree lopping and fertiliser services keep our forests healthy.
Fruit bats weigh up to a kilogram but insectivorous bats are tiny; some weigh no more than a few grams and the biggest, Australia’s ghost bat, is around 150 grams.
Insectivorous bats are small but they have a few fancy tricks up their flappy little sleeves.
They are nocturnal, roosting during the day in the shelter of rock crevices or caves, snoozing in safety and comfort before venturing out at night.
Insectivorous bats have eyes but they usually rely on echolocation to ‘see’. They emit a high-pitched sound through their mouth or their nostrils and listen for the echo that returns when the sound waves bounce off something like a cave wall or a tasty mosquito. It’s these sound waves that tell the bat how far away it is from something, what that something is and whether it’s moving.
Insectivorous bats are useful to have around as they eat things like mosquitoes, fruit flies or other pest insects.
They are sometimes found roosting in odd spots like under the eaves of your house or in your garden and have been mistaken for abandoned baby fruit bats but it is important that you leave them be.
These little guys are resting up before heading out again the next evening and usually don’t need any assistance.
Please remember all bats have the potential to carry the Australian bat lyssa virus. If you are bitten or scratched you must wash the wound thoroughly and contact the hospital immediately to arrange vaccinations.