1—–Bats are the only flying mammal.
2—–There are over 1000 species of bats in the world—-over 25% of the world’s species of mammals.
3—–There are approximately 100 species of Bats in Australia.
4—-Bats are found in every State and Territory in Australia.
5—- In South East Queensland, there are 33 species of Bats.
6—–There are two types of bats (sub orders) Micro bats and Mega Bats.
7—-Micro bat remains date back 55 million years.
8—-All bats have eyesight, hearing and a sense of smell—Micro bats echolocate to navigate and find their food sources that are mainly insects however some eat fish, spiders, Frogs, Birds and other bats. Vampire bats are only found in Central and South America and live on blood.
9—-Bats are good swimmers and many actually touch the water in flight they drink by licking their fur.
10—Bats move around to different roosts depending on mating, food sources and migration patterns.
11—-Bats hang upside down by their feet because it is energy efficient. Bats invert to relieve themselves.
12—-Bats come in all sizes and weights from just a few grams to over a kilogram with wingspans of up to 2 metres.
13—-Bats can live up to 25 years longer in captivity.
14—- Mega Bats typically follow the bloom of the gum trees in their feeding and migration patterns—a flying fox may move up to 70 kilometres in a night foraging. That’s why they are such good seed and pollen dispensers.
Australian Bat Lyssa virus (ABL)
REHAB AND RELEASE
There are many excellent sources of information available about bats, however the following is a brief introduction to their special characteristics.
Bats as we recognise them today have been on earth for at least 55 million years. Their evolutionary origins are a subject of debate as fossil records are rare due to their delicate bone structures. Bats are the only mammals capable of sustained flight and are perfectly adapted to achieve this.
Bats belong to the order Chiroptera (meaning “hand winged”) and are divided into two suborders, Microchiroptera and Megachiroptera:-
microbatMicrochiroptera (Microbats) are
small, mainly insectivorous bats which navigate and feed using echolocation. The smallest is the bumble bee bat from Thailand weighing 1.5gms. It is believed that microbats evolved from a shrew-like ancestor being born blind and without fur. In Australia we have approximately 63 species of microbats, that live in a range of habitats including tree hollows, caves, roofs and walls of houses, and change roost sites often to avoid predation. They give birth to a single young(some species have multiple young) through October to December. Microbat babies can be born up to one third of their mother’s weight, so when they become too heavy to be carried, they are left behind in the maternity colony. These colonies can consist of a small number of animals or several thousand.
Greater broadnosedMicrobats could be considered nature’s can of Mortein as they consume thousands of insects in one night. Although most microbats are insectivores, there are also some carnivorous species. Some larger species prey on smaller species and there is even a fish-eating bat that scoops small fish out of the water with its oversized feet!
Microbats have a unique way of conserving the energy they need to sustain flight while feeding and echolocating. They are capable of going into what is called ‘torpor’ by lowering their body temperature which in turn lowers their breathing and heart rate. They can appear almost lifeless as they barely move and are cold to the touch. This happens frequently in colder months when food is scarce.
The system known as echolocation is a highly sophisticated method microbats use to generate information about their surroundings. It is achieved by emitting high frequency sound waves through their mouth and nostrils, and listening for the echo bouncing back from surrounding objects. These can be solid objects they are navigating around or tiny fruit flies they are hunting to eat. It is difficult to imagine how microbat brains interpret this information to form a perfect picture of their environment. For example, the echoes bouncing back can tell them the distance from their prey, the size, shape and even the speed it is travelling. The sound waves need to be high frequency to get the detail back they require, so is above our hearing range. There are some very elaborate facial features on microbats such as noseleafs that direct echolocations calls. It is truly an amazing feature and is the subject of a great deal of study. Different species have different frequency calls, thus specialised equipment known as bat detectors have been designed to record these calls and identify species.