The microbats are back!

Every year about this time (early autumn), a bunch of microbats decide to roost during the day in the ‘armpits’ of a terracotta bat I have hanging on my back deck.

Terracotta bat home for microbats

I don’t want to disturb them more than necessary, so just have a peak into the hole occasionally. I can’t tell what species they are without major disturbance, but they could be the east-coast freetail (Mormopterus norfolkensis). They eat insects at night and, according to A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia, they roost in tree hollows and buildings. There seemed to be three this morning, but I’ve counted six huddled together in past years. The space is very small, and I hope they feel snug and protected. Weight is 7-10 grams each. They are truly sweet.

Before we put insect screens on the windows, we slept with the windows open at night and under a mosquito net (besides the nuisance value of whining mozzies, mosquito-borne Ross River fever and Barmah Forest virus are rampant in this area). Occasionally we’d be woken by the soft whirr of wings and the feeling that something was fluttering gently around the ceiling. Odds on it was one of these bats seeking food in the ‘cave’ of the bedroom.

Very little is known about microbats in this country. I copyedited an early edition of Churchill’s Australian Bats, and it was a joy to see photos of all those lovely little furry faces.

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