BatsThere are eight species of bats occurring in Tasmania. They are:
Bats comprise one-fifth of all the mammals in the world.This highly successful group of mammals are predominantly a tropical group - given Tasmania's temperate latitude, it is not suprising that it has relatively few species of bat.
The unique feature of bats is their wings. The bones of their forearms are the same as other mammals except that they are longer and lighter. An elastic skin stretches over the forearm bones and attaches to the side of the bat's body making a wing. The length of the bat's forearm is used to help identify different bat species.
Bats catch insects in flight. Small insects may be taken directly into the bat's mouth, whilst larger insects are scooped into the bat's wing, transferred to the tail and then eaten. All of the Tasmanian bat species have their own favored way of insect hunting. Some species forage in the upper canopy, whilst others will hunt close to or on the ground. Some bats catch insects in mid air, whilst others seek insects amongst the foliage.
Some bats will roost in alternative shelters such as rock crevices or buildings. The lesser long-eared bat is quite urbanised and is often found in the roofs or walls of houses and sheds. This bats' proximity to urban areas and its method of foraging close to the ground, results in this species being the one most commonly killed by pet cats.
Initially baby bat's wings are poorly developed so most species leave their young clinging upside down to the roost site while the mother forages. Adult bats usually forage for around two hours at a time. The mother bat usually leaves her young in a 'creche' situation whilst she hunts. Known exceptions to this are the young of Goulds wattled bat and the little forest bat. The young bats remain attached to their mothers' nipples even during flight.
Bats are born with recurved (bent backwards) teeth which help them cling to their mother. They drink milk directly from their mothers' nipples which are located beneath each armpit. Bats develop quickly and may be fully furred within three weeks. By midsummer most bats have been weaned and are foraging for food themselves.
Lyssavirus is transmitted when open wounds come into contact with infected saliva or blood. It is not transmitted by casual contact or via urine and faeces.
The virus is related to, but distinct from the rabies virus. The distribution of lyssavirus is unknown. Although there are no fruit bats in Tasmania it may be carried by one of the insect eating species. However these bats are all very small and most species are unlikely to cause a scratch or wound, even when being held.
Tasmanian bats are shy, nocturnal and not aggressive. People only encounter them infrequently, for example when bats become disorientated and cling to curtains or roost in sheds.
This is the smallest Tasmanian bat. It produces a single young and roosts in tree hollows. The little forest bat has mid to dark grey for on its back and dark grey fur with lighter tips on its belly. Forearm length: 29-30 mm, Body length: 40-50 mm, Weight: 4-4.5 gm.
A small bat, slightly larger than the little forest bat and may be distinguished by reddish brown fur on the back and lighter brown fur on the belly. It used to be called the King River eptesicus. Forearm length: 32-33 mm, Body length: 45-55 mm, Weight: 5-5.5 gm.
The large forest bat is the largest of this genus in Tasmania. These bats have dark grey to dark brown fur all over. They are found in all forest types including rainforest and catch insects from the mid canopy to the understorey. They only produce a single young at a time. Forearm length: 35 mm, Body length: 40-60 mm, Weight: 6 gm.
This species gets its name from its chocolate brown fur. Its lifestyle is similar to the large forest bat. The chocolate wattled bat has a shorter hibernation period than other species.
Forearm length: 40-41 mm, Body length: 50-60 mm, Weight: 9-10 gm.
This bat has dark brown fur on the back and a black head and shoulders with lighter brown fur on the belly. Usually two young are born, remaining attached during flight. They roost in colonies in hollow trees and feed on insects in the upper canopy. Forearm length: 46 mm, Body length: 56-75 mm, Weight: 14-15 gm.
The long-eared bats are so called because of their long, strongly ribbed ears (up to 25 mm in length) which can be folded back when at rest. These bats have light grey-brown fur on the back and paler fur below. They fly slowly close to the ground, occassionally alighting on low vegetation. They are found in urban areas. Forearm length: 39-41 mm, Body length: 40-50 mm, Weight: 8-10 gm.
This is Tasmania's only endemic bat species. It is larger than the lesser long-eared bat and has ears up to 30 mm in length. This bat has dark grey-brown fur on the back and slightly lighter fur on the belly. It mainly eats non-flying insects which it casptures from the vegetation. It often flies close to the ground searching for food. Forearm length: 46 mm, Body length: 60-75 mm, Weight: 13 gm.
This is Tasmania's largest bat, with females averaging up to 21 gm. In all Tasmanian bats the female is generally larger than the male. The eastern falsistrelle has reddish brown fur on the back and lighter brown fur on the belly. It used to be named the Tasmanian pipistrelle. It flies quickly, catching mainly beetles from the upper canopy and produces a single young. Forearm length: 49-50 mm, Body length: 55-70 mm, Weight: 19-21 gm.
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