Bats of the South East – Friends not Foes

Bats of the South East – Friends not Foes

Did you know that bats make up 20% of the world’s mammal species? All sorts of misconceptions exist around our nocturnal flying friends, but bats are super interesting, diverse, and helpful to humans!

I recently gave a talk at the Limestone Coast (LC) Landscape Board’s Bat Night at the Naracoorte Caves, home to the southern bent-winged bat. This species is critically endangered and relies on caves in a small part of south-eastern Australia as critical habitat. But this is not the only bat in our region – we actually have about 16 species of bats here in the South East (and south-west Victoria), and they can be found in many different land-uses from urban, to agricultural, to natural bush or wetland settings.

After my presentation on Bats of the South East in Blanche Cave we headed back aboveground to the Bat Observation Centre where Tom (Naracoorte Caves) shared some of his knowledge from years of guiding at the site and showed us excellent up-close views of southern bent-winged bats through the live camera set up in Bat Cave. The Friends of the Naracoorte Caves put on a barbecue and the younger attendees enjoyed bat craft.

This event was postponed and rescheduled many times this year, so the LC Landscape Board team and I really appreciate all those who stuck with it and were able to attend on the night. We’re hoping to hold some similar events next autumn and we have a citizen science project looking at bats and their insect prey coming up in February. Feel free to send me an email if you’re interested in either of these events and keep an eye on the LC Landscape Board Facebook page for event info.

Bats have received a bit of undeserved bad press this year (through their association with COVID-19) which has unfortunately led to acts of unnecessary cruelty and culling in many locations around the world. This article from April in The Conversation is a good read; check it out if you’re on the fence or want to learn more about these valuable creatures.

Grey-headed flying foxes are becoming more frequently sighted in the South East, including in backyards in our towns. I’d love to hear if you have batty visitors or if you have questions about bats; please get in touch!

This project was funded by the Limestone Coast Landscape Board.

Rose Thompson