Backyard Buddies
Microbat

Photo: Doug Beckers

Microbat

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Microbats are mammals - the only mammals capable of flying a sustained distance.

During summer and autumn, microbats go into a feeding frenzy as they fatten up on insects to help them survive the winter. Once the nights become cooler and the insects disappear, microbats lower their body temperature and go into a state of mini hibernation until their food returns in spring. Microbats can eat as much as 40% of their own body weight in a single night or several hundred insects per hour.

The smallest microbat weighs only 3 grams. If these tiny bats cannot find a suitable hollow, they can fit into very small gaps and utilise your roof and walls. This is why artificial roost sites are important as they provide an alternative.

Many of our microbat species are hollow dependent which means they live during the daylight hours inside the hollows of trees or branches. Competition from birds, possums and gliders along with the clearing of many old trees means that microbats may find the roof or walls of your home the perfect roosting place.

In Australia, microbat babies are born in late spring and remain with their mothers until the end of January. The mother produces milk to feed her babies. Adult microbats feed on lawn grub moths, weevils, beetles, midges, flying termites, mosquitoes and other insects.

If you have microbats in your walls or roof and don't want them there, visit Bat Rescue Inc at www.batrescue.org.au for more detailed information on how to remove them.

Microbats like:

Lots of insects to give them enough food to last the winter months.

Safe places to live. Microbats live in a variety of roosts that vary between species. Some choose caves or mine shafts or storm water pipes, while others use tree hollows, under bark, cracks in posts, dried palms leaves or junction boxes. They are fussy about conditions and will use a particular site at different times of the year.

Lights to attract the insects they love to catch. Microbats can often be spotted swooping insects around park lights.

But they don't like:

Being disturbed, especially when roosting in winter. They are very slow to "wake up" and easy prey for cats if the roost is disturbed. Disturbance, and subsequent harm, is the main reason microbats come into care.

Be a Microbat buddy

Try to:

Build a special roosting box that can offer your microbat buddies a hangout for daytime naps or even a safe place to sleep through winter.

Look for piles of insect "bits" on the ground to see if you have any microbats controlling insects in your neighbourhood. Microbats use their tail or wings to catch large insects which they carry to their favourite feeding site.

Avoid:

Handling microbats. If you find a microbat that you think may need assistance, call your local wildlife rescue service for advice.

Using electric insect zappers as they don't just kill the bad insects, they also kill the beneficial insects and remove the food for local microbats.

Did you know?

Microbats see with their ears rather than their eyes. They produce a sound and 'listen' for it as it bounces back from surrounding objects. The time the sound takes to travel back to them tells the bat how close the object is. As the sound bounces off the ground, trees, rocks and houses, the bat 'sees' a three dimensional image of its surroundings.

When cruising, microbats emit about 10 pulses per second. When an insect is detected the pulses go up to over 100 per second.

Females may fly hundreds of kilometres to special maternity sites to raise their babies.

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Quote

”I am a proud Backyard Buddy, doing my bit for our wonderful wildlife, I encourage you to get involved!“

James – BYB Supporter & Homeowner, VIC

Photo: OEH