What bats can you find in New Zealand?
You might not think New Zealand is a place where you would find bats, but these cute winged creatures are actually the country’s only native mammal species. There once were three species in existence around the country, but sadly the greater short tailed bat is now believed to be extinct.
That said, we still have two fantastic bat species in New Zealand; the long-tailed bat, and the short-tailed bat.
The long-tailed bat
Long-tailed bats are the more common of the two species, although they are still far rarer than most of us would like. Their fur is a rich brown colour, and they have short ears and a tail hidden in a membrane between their back legs. Unfortunately, it’s still quite unlikely that you would see one in the wild as they come out at dusk to hunt.
This species feeds solely on flying insects, and research has shown that they don’t often roost in the same place more than once, which makes them particularly difficult to find.
The short-tailed bat
The short-tailed bat is only found in a few places around the country, and is identifiable with pale grey fur, a short stumpy tail, and long pointy ears. They will eat just about anything – from insects and fruit to seeds and nectar – and don’t tend to fly well after dusk.
One of the most interesting aspects of New Zealand’s short-tailed bat species is that it’s the only one in the world that forages for food on the ground. They can do this because of wings that can completely fold down so that the elbow part can be used as front legs, and also because the hind legs have small claws. For this reason, you’ll rarely see them more than 10 metres above ground.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist