Microbats are mammals and belong to the family order called Microchiroptera meaning “little hand-wing”. Like humans, microbats are warm-blooded placental animals and are covered with fur and they nourish their young with milk produced by the mothers. Bats share the same sense as we do in smelling, hearing, seeing and feeling, they have the added benefit of flight and an exceptional system of navigation and prey detection called echolocation. Bats are the only mammals capable of sustained flight. Although their body plan is similar to other mammals their body has been modified for flight. Their wings are hands the same as our hands only the bones have elongated and are connected by a membrane which is made up of two layers of skin enclosing elastic fibres, blood vessels and nerves.
Microbats eat many pest insects including lawn grub moths, weevils, beetles, midges, flying termites, disease carrying mosquitoes, and many more. Some microbats also eat frogs and small fish. A recent survey in a major grain-growing region of Australia, found 100% of a microbats diet were grain weevils. So for crop protection and by helping to limit the use of pesticide, by encouraging microbats we could save our economy as well as our health. Yet we humans are mostly unaware of the benefits of living with bats in our neighbourhood.
There are nearly 1,000 kinds of bats in the world, which account for almost 1/4 of all mammal species; they are highly beneficial to our economies and to our health in consuming vast quantities of pest and disease carrying insects also by pollinating and dispersing the seeds of plants. Their populations are suffering devastating declines due to habitat loss and a lack of worth.
Contrary to popular belief, bats are not blind and do not become entangled in human hair. Bats use echolocation to help them find food. Microbats make a high-frequency noise from their mouth or nose as they fly; these noises strike objects and bounce back as echoes. The bat can then tell if the object is a tasty insect or a brick wall. Objects as fine as a human hair can be detected in total darkness. This navigational system allows them to see pictures of sound much the same as our vision allows us to see. It also explains their large and unusual ear and nose shapes.
Bats are fascinating animals; it is the community who are "blind to bats".
If you think you have microbats in your roof or your walls or even in your pool side umbrella, please click on this link to see what you can do.
PUT UP A BAT BOX in your backyard and monitor it to make sure it is not taken up by wasps or ants.
Download instructions for making a Bat Flat
Download technical drawings of a Bat Flat
Visit the Hollow Log Homes website for great ideas on turning your backyard into a safe haven for wildlife
Download instructions and build a Bat Roost Box
DON'T USE ELECTRIC INSECT BUZZERS. They don't just kill the bad insects they also kill the beneficial insects within our environment. They remove the food for local microbats.
JOIN BAT CONSERVATION AND RESCUE QLD INC. to learn more about bats and how you can help save them, see the membership page.
DO NOT TOUCH BATS. If you want to help bats do not touch them, like any frightened wild animal it may bite. Bats are not a health risk unless an infected animal bites you. If bats bite people they have to be killed and be tested for Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL). Less than 0.5% of bats carry ABL. Do not risk your health or the bat's life; call Bat Conservation & Rescue Qld Inc. for assistance.
If you find a microbat during the daytime cover it with a box and call our Rescue Line. If you have microbats in your pool umbrella or a rolled up blind, open it after dark and leave it open till morning. They hopefully have an alternative roost or you could help them by putting up a bat box. Dead trees and hollow limbs are critical habitat for many microbat species but they will also live in roofs of houses, caves, bridges, and culverts and readily take up residence in artificial roosts.
By encouraging Microbats into our backyards with artificial roost boxes we can enjoy the benefit of natural, chemical free mosquito and pest control.
A single Microbat can catch 1,200 mosquitos and small insects in just 1 hour!
For more information about bat boxes or to become a carer visit our Microbats and Membership pages.
If you find a sick or injured bat call the 24hr Rescue Hotline: 0488 228 134
Article excerpt from the Bay Island Times (July), written by Kat Gawlik