Microbats: Natures Tiniest Bug Exterminators
When most Australians think of bats, they picture flying foxes flapping through the fruit trees, but we also have some amazing bat species that feed on insects instead of fruit, called microbats! Microbats don’t eat fruit, and most weigh under 10 grams. They’re easy to miss because they don’t roost out in the open, and are so tiny and fast they’re easy to miss as they flit through the night catching insects in midair! In South East Queensland we actually have over 24 species of microbats, with the smallest (the Little Forest Bat) weighing in less than 4 grams and the largest (Yellow Bellied Sheath Tail) 45 grams.
No Touch No Risk! Most peoples first encounter with a microbat is when they find one alone on the ground or hanging on a wall during the daytime. Any bat found alone during the daytime needs help! Like all bats, please Don’t Touch microbats, if you think one needs help call our 24/7 hotline for advice or to get at trained and Lyssavirus-vaccinated rescuer out to help.
Microbats are not aggressive, and care much more about eating all your resident mosquitos and other bugs (a colony of microbats can eat thousands of insects a night!) than going near people. While they have a spooky reputation, microbats are actually intelligent social animals that can live for over 20 years, have best friends, and are dedicated mothers. Microbats play an important role in the Australian ecosystem, and it is illegal to disturb or injure them like all Australian native wildlife. Microbats are incredibly valuable to agriculture and humans because they act as pest control agents.
Found A Microbat on the Gold Coast or in the Scenic Rim? BatsQLD can help! Here’s what to do if:
A Microbat’s Stuck In My House
If you have a microbat in your house on the Gold Coast, BatsQLD can help.
It’s pretty rare, but microbats can accidentally get trapped in a house and need assistance getting out. They won’t fly in your hair, but they will fly in circles trying to find an exit. Don’t try to catch it! If the bat is still flying around, you should contain any pets in another room, turn off your ceiling fan, open all the doors and windows you can and turn off the lights. The bat will usually fly out as soon as they can, but please don’t try to swat at them or grab them! If the bat isn’t leaving or is on the ground, please don’t touch it, give out hotline a call 0447 222 889 and one of our rescuers can come collect the bat. Microbats can become dehydrated very quickly, so they sometimes need a bit of R’n’R with an experienced carer if they’ve been stuck inside for more than a day.
I Found A Microbat on the Ground
Don’t Touch! Call our hotline instead for help and a rescuer can respond. Any microbat found on the ground needs help. Microbats can’t easily take off from the ground, and if they’re grounded they’re usually injured or unwell and won’t recover without specialized care. A microbat hanging alone on a wall or other surface also needs help. Microbats are nocturnal and should be sleeping in a safe protected roost during the day, so if you find one hanging alone, especially during the daytime, call our 24/7 hotline! One of the biggest threats bats in suburbs face is cat attacks, which often leave the bat injured with a deadly infection from cat saliva. A bat on the ground cannot take off and cannot defend itself, but any wild animal can behave unpredictably if touched. Do not pick up or touch microbats. If you think one needs help call our 24/7 hotline for advice to get a Lyssavirus-vaccinated rescuer out to help.
I Found Some Microbats In My Pool Umbrella
Some species of microbats are evolved to roost inside treebark and leaves, and now that Australia has less old-growth trees, they’ve had to improvise. Sometimes microbats discover that roosting in the folds of a closed up pool umbrella is nice place to hang! Microbats like to sleep during the day and change roosts regularly, so people normally find them when they open their umbrella for spring. Don’t Panic! If you can, just leave the umbrella like you found it, if it’s already open don’t close it back up. The microbats will usually switch to a new roost with less human attention. If you are able to leave the umbrella closed and leave the bats there, having a group of bug exterminators in your backyard is a great asset! Microbats won’t bother people, and usually change roosts within a few months anyways. If any bats fall on the ground don’t touch them, call our hotline to get a rescuer’s help.
I Have Microbats in my Roof
Microbats typically roost in trees hollows and caves, but as the forests in Australia have been replaced with suburbs, some microbat species now make their home in the house roofs occasionally. Bats in your house are not dangerous to you or your pets! Unlike rats or possums, microbats won’t chew on wiring or damage the house, and their droppings are not a source of disease in Australia. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to have microbats near your house, they will help eat mosquitos and other bugs at your place!
Wildlife rescue organisations and the public are not permitted to relocate microbats or other native wildlife. Left to their own devices, microbats can be fine house guests. You can always encourage bats to relocate by installing a bat box nearby click on the QR code to build your own.
There are plenty of great resources about microbats in Australia, check out some of our favourites: