Discover the bats in our region

Have you noticed any new locals flying around town lately? Keep your eye on the sky at dusk from now until April and expect to see up to 15 species of bats.

This month, these flying mammals will start looking to make camp near creeks, rivers and streams to cool off by through summer and near trees with blossoms and fruit such as melaleuca, eucalyptus and banksia to feed on.

Picture: Igam Ogam

Picture: Igam Ogam

Types of bats you may see and find here:

  • Little forest: Often found in human environments, weighing only 2-6g;
  • White-striped freetail: Most common type of bat, weighing around 47g;
  • Lesser long-eared bat: A feisty type of bat, often found under horse blankets;
  • Gould’s long-eared bat: Dark brown to grey in colour;
  • Eastern broad-nosed bat: Like to be in care and eat a lot;
  • Gould’s wattled: Love to be in human environments;
  • Freetail: Defined by their free tail and furry toes;
  • Large-eared pied bat and southern myotis (fishing bat): rarely seen and vulnerable.

While bats usually live near water sources or in forests, they do sometimes come into homes. The most common areas are under verandas and horse blankets and in sheds, exhaust pipes and even outdoor umbrellas and coats.

Picture: Rob Potter

Picture: Rob Potter

Bats will eventually leave and often don’t need to be removed, causing no harm if left alone. However, if you’re really worried about bats in your home or if you find an injured bat, the rule is - don’t touch, but do tell.

You can call:

  • WIRES: 1300 094 737;
  • Wildcare Queanbeyan: 6299 1966;
  • Native Animal Rescue Group (NARG): 4846 1900; or 
  • ACT Wildlife: 0432 300 033.

Similarly, bats will only bite if they feel threatened, but if you do get bitten seek immediate medical attention as some bats carry a group of viruses linked to rabies called Lyssaviruses. 

Even people who may have been bitten some time ago should still seek medical attention.

We need to think about how we live with them, because they are critical to our ecosystem.

Heather Caulfield, Bat Coordinator for WIRES in Goulburn.

For a long time, these nocturnal creatures have been feared, often associated with vampires and caves, but they’re actually essential to our environment. 

They protect crops by eating up to their own body weight in insects every night through summer, including moths, termites, mosquitoes, and spiders. They also rejuvenate our forests, especially after fires, carrying pollen and seeds over long distances.

Sadly, many species of bats are becoming endangered as trees are cut down and temperatures are rising.

Picture: Ryan Harvey

Picture: Ryan Harvey

“We need to think about how we live with them, because they are critical to our ecosystem,” said Heather Caulfield, Bat Coordinator for WIRES in Goulburn.

You can help create a safe habitat for bats by planting trees and keeping old trees, especially those that blossom and bear fruit. It’s best not to use pesticides or nets with holes bigger than a finger and to keep pets such as cats and dogs indoors at night.

Bat boxes work for some species, but they tend to be the more common types.

Other fun bat facts:

  • There is no such thing as a blind bat, they all can see, but they are known for using echolocation with their nose or ears, or a mixture of both.
  • They are part of complex, social colonies and each group has its own dialect, which means bats can’t be placed into other colonies. This has a big impact on rescuers, as they have to get the bat back to exactly where it came from.
  • Bats are native to and protected in Australia.
  • Many bats live for 20+ years.
  • Baby bats are called pups and their brains are similar to humans, they need eye contact and verbal contact with parents for brain development.