Insect Bats

Victoria has 21 species of microbats (insect bats), a protected species.

At dusk in the summer we sit on our balcony and see insect bats flying around catching their prey, the myriad insects in the air.

Although abundant, most people would be unaware of microbats due to their size, inaudible to humans calls, and they are nocturnal.

Insect bat box

Insect Bat box we built at Phillip Island

Classified as a mammal, it is the only mammal capable of flying.

The insect bat is certainly "micro", weighing up to only 150 grams and growing to 15cm.

The bat uses echolocation to "see" what is around. It makes high pitched sound pulses through the nose and mouth which, when returned to it, can help gauge the distance, size and mobility of insects.

The sound pulses are so high pitched, humans cannot hear them.

Travelling several kilometres a night searching for food, a single bat can eat hundreds of mosquitoes and other flying insects in a few hours.

It can eat up to three quarters of its body weight in a night.

Insect bat skull

Insect bat skull found near our bat box

The insect bat roosts in tree hollows. Or, as we discovered, in man-made buildings.

During winter the microbat enters a state of semi hibernation, or torpor, after building up fat during the summer and autumn.

It can live up to 30 years which is amazing, given its tiny size!

To breed, females fly long distances to special maternity sites. The gestation period is about 12 weeks, with the young born in November/December when there is plenty of food available.

A pup is born fur-less and suckles until it can fly. This is about 5 to 6 weeks old.

One of the main predators of the microbat is the domestic cat.


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