Mega and micro - both bats are crucial to our ecosystem
Published on 21 April 2023
Monday 17 April, 2023 was International Bat Appreciation Day.
Victoria is home to the Grey-headed flying fox, the Little Red flying fox (semi-permanently) and to 23 species of insectivorous bats, also known as microbats.
Flying foxes provide a crucial ecosystem service as long-distance pollinators, pollinating flowers, dispersing seeds, and helping our native forests to grow and regenerate. A single flying fox can disperse up to 60,000 seeds in one night! These megabats rely on well-developed sight and smell to navigate, while microbats use echolocation (effectively seeing with their ears) to get around and find food.
Microbats play an important role in controlling insect populations, including mosquitos and agricultural pests - they can consume at least half their body weight in insects in a night! You may not have noticed these fluttering micro-friends due to their nocturnal behaviour and the fact that most species of microbats produce echolocation calls well outside our hearing range…or you may have thought your microbat sighting was a moth on steroids (the Little Forest Bat can weigh as little as 3.5g)!
Where do they live?
Many of our microbat species live in cracks and hollows or large trees, but they may also roost in the roof and walls of your house if they can’t find a suitable hollow. Other microbats choose to roost in caves, mine shafts, storm water pipes, cracks in posts, dried palms leaves or electrical junction boxes.
Why are they in my house and what can I do if I don’t want them there?
A lack of a suitable natural hollow may result in microbats seeking shelter in and around your house. If you have microbats in your walls or roof and don’t want them there, visit Ausbats for more detailed information on how to remove them.
With May on our doorstep and insect numbers dwindling, many microbat species will start to enter a state of torpor, becoming inactive to save energy. In the event of a sudden cold snap, microbats may get caught out away from their roost and go into a torpor. If that occurs, they may land on anything that’s convenient, such as a screen door or the ground.
How can you help these critical creatures?
Residents can help protect microbat populations by preserving tree hollows and natural habitats, providing artificial roosting sites, avoiding disturbing them (especially when they’re roosting in winter), and keeping cats indoors. Report any sightings of injured or distressed bats to local wildlife authorities and avoid handling all bats as they can sometimes carry disease.
Learn more about efforts to research microbats and exciting innovations in bat research techniques
Learn more about these unique creatures