Microbats At Long Grass

By Peter Richards from Long Grass Wiildlife Refuge and Bats Qld

microbat boxIn previous years Gabi and I have had microbats come in to care and those that did we had little success with. We became quite somewhat despondent about the prospect of rearing more microbats only for them to die after a couple of weeks. This year however has been different. Since the beginning of December 2011 we took 9 microbats into care and lost two of them. One of the deaths was pretty well unavoidable. A bat that was passed on to us from Australia Zoo as simply requiring a rest before being released turned out to be paralysed and had multiple injuries. The second death was a 3g furless baby that survived for 27 days and then succumbed to what I think was inhalation pneumonia after she was switched from syringe feeding to lapping as she had a habit of putting her whole nose in the milk. I will stick with syringe feeding these young ones from now on.

We have improved our microbat facilities during this season. The inner lining of a 2 man tent made a perfect bat house in the corner of our office. The tent is free-standing, lightweight, roomy and totally bat proof. 
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Building Bathouses For Microbats

microbatMicrobats are natural insect terminators.  These little mammals  weigh around 3gms  - 150 gms and have a wingspan of approx 25 cm. Being nocturnal creatures they use echolocation to navigate and find their insects in the dark. Contrary to popular myth, the bats are not blind and do use their sight as well.  The largest species has a body length of only 11 cms.  A single microbat can eat  up to 1,200 mosquitoes and small insects in an hour which has earned them the well deserved reputation of being the nature's mosquito busters.  They also pollinate native flowers, many of which can only be pollinated at night. Microbats like their bigger cousins the flying foxes (also called megabats) are a vital part of the ecology of our forests and planet. Recent surveys in Australia have shown that in grain-growing regions, the microbats fed solely on grain weevils, thus helping crop protection by reducing the use of pesticides.  Microbats also eat midges, termites, lawn grub moths and other harmful insects.

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Year Of The Bat - Basic Bat Physiology

flying fox poster

( click here for for Year of The Bat Posters (free) )


Bat Physiology Facts 

(Courtesy Batsqld.org.au and Long Grass Wildlife Refuge)

baby bat clinging to mother bat

Flying foxes and Microbats are placental mammals

They are warm blooded and deliver a furred open-eyed baby and suckle their young

The baby has oversized feet and an extra hook on the thumb hook to aid in clinging to its mother


By latching on to the mothers teat located in the wing pit the baby is carried very securely for the first five weeks of its life

From 3-5 weeks the baby cannot thermo regulate

Bats mothers are meticulous in hygiene and use their tongue to lick and groom the baby

Baby bats CANNOT fly until they are 12-13 weeks old. Many calls for rescue come after a baby has been seen for days and this seriously affects its survival.


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Why Care About Bats? (Year of The Bat 2011-2012)

bats in cave art from the Icae age 20-25,000 years ago in the Kimberley region

(All pictures in this article: courtesy batsqld.org.au and Long Grass Wildlife Refuge)

Bats are among the earliest mammals, experts dating them back to around 50 million years. Cave paintings in the Kimberley's dating back to the last Ice Age which was around 20 - 25,000 years ago feature bats as can be seen in the above image.

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2011 Year of the Bat Posters

 Bats in Care - 2011 Year of the Bat Posters   

Bats are the world's only flying mammal capable of sustained flight and are crucial to the survival of our forests.

Flying foxes and Microbats are endangered species. Many babies die every year as their mothers die by falling victim to barbed wires, bird netting, electrocution, wind farms and terrible storms. A baby flying fox cannot survive without its mother because it cannot thermoregulate for 3-5 weeks, feed itself or fly until 12-15 weeks of age.

Thanks to the collossal rescue efforts of the small but highly dedicated  bat rescue groups like Bats Queensland and Long Grass Wildlife Refuge Centre many orphan bats and injured bats have been rescued and rehabilitated.

To celebrate the international Year of the Bat - Winged Hearts.org has created a series of Bats In Care Posters. These posters feature our own Gabriel Tuks - an orphaned black flying fox whom we were privileged to care for in 2009. Tuki as we fondly call him was successfully rehabilitated in March 2010.

You can preview and download the posters below (all free). Please feel free to share widely with your family and friends. We will be issuing a Special Edition on Flying Foxes and Bats in a few weeks' time. All subscribers will receive a free copy. To get your free subscription, enter your name and details in the box on the left hand bar.

 Poster 1


 Click here for Poster 1 - A4 size                  Click here for Poster 1 - A3 Size


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