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Going on a bat hunt

How to help save an endangered species

ANNA LOREN
Last updated 05:00 18/02/2014
Long-Tailed Bats
TINY FLIER: Long-tailed bats are chestnut-brown and only weigh about 10g on average.

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Keep your eyes to the sky near old trees and open parkland and you could be helping save an endangered species.

Forest & Bird South Auckland members are searching for the long-tailed bat and are asking for help to track down the tiny mammal.

They have been out in force around southern reserves, including on Redoubt Rd, and in Alfriston and Clevedon, in the hopes of finding a bat colony.

Deputy chairwoman Kate Loman-Smith says the group has not yet been successful but will continue its efforts - especially as Auckland Council has identified a bat population roosting in Clevedon.

The Department of Conservation lists long-tailed bat populations as "critical" and in danger of extinction if people don't step in to save them.

They are particularly vulnerable to rats, cats and stoats.

Ms Loman-Smith says it's predicted that 90 per cent of New Zealand's bats will be gone by 2050.

But Forest & Bird will be able to step up its pest control efforts once local bat populations are identified.

February is an ideal month to spot long-tailed bats as they like the clear air and the warmth, Ms Loman-Smith says.

They are most often found in old trees that are near water, or near open ground where they come out to feed.

It's best to look for them from just before sunset to about half-an-hour afterwards.

"They're very difficult to hear with the human ear, so sometimes you can't necessarily hear them but their silhouette is pretty obvious."

Email Ms Loman-Smith at katelomansmith@gmail.com if you've seen any long-tailed bats in your area.

BAT FACTS

Long-tailed bats are smaller than short-tailed bats, weighing 8-12g

Females are believed to give birth to only one pup a year

Long-tailed bats can fly at 60 kmh

They are insectivores and feed on small moths, midges, mosquitoes and beetles.

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- Manukau Courier

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