Ghost Bat Fact File
Ghost bats are the largest species of micro-bat in Australia and spend their nights hunting for small vertebrates. They are the only Australian bats to feed on these animals.
Their day is spent in a roost which is located in a cave or mine shaft. By night they use their wings to fly out in to adjacent forest or woodland where they can hunt using echolocation.
These bats form colonies with up to 100 members. Outside of the breeding season these split in to individual groups for the males and females.
Read on to learn more about the amazing mammals.
The name ghost bat comes from the grey fur on the back and the pale grey or white on the underside.
On either side of the body is a long, narrow wing.
Atop the head are a pair of extremely large ears. These large ears aid them in hearing prey at long distances. On the nose is a protruding appendage of skin known as the leaf.
Despite being the largest species of microbat in Australia the ghost bat only reaches lengths of between 10 and 12cm (4 and 4.75in) long. An average weight for this species is between 75 and 150g (2.6-5oz). Females tend to be smaller than males. Their wingspan covers up to 60cm (23.6in) across.
They will consume the whole animal including bones, teeth, fur and feathers.
When hunting they will drop on to prey from above and wrap the flight membrane around it. Prey is mainly caught on the ground and then carried up to a perch where they can finish consuming it.
The location of food can also be determined using echolocation. They emit a high-pitched sound and then wait to hear the echo which comes back.
Ghosts bats are the only Australian bats to feed on vertebrate prey with the rest eating solely invertebrates.
Australia is the native home of the ghost bat. Here they can be found across the north of the country in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Their range also extends on to a number of islands off the coast.
Their range has been much reduced since European settlement when they could be found much further South.
Ghosts bats make their home near rainforest or woodland. Here they will roost within a cave, fissure or mine.
Few nesting sites are known with only ten having been recorded.
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Mating occurs from April to August.
After 3 months a single young is born. This will feed on milk which the mother excretes from a nipple under the armpit. The young will remain attached to the mother for 4 weeks.
After this it is left in the nursery cave until it can fly at 7 weeks old.
Sexual maturity is reached at two years old.
Ghost bats are nocturnal with feeding occurring soon after sunset.
They will live in a small colony with up to 100 members. After mating the groups will separate based on gender.
Predators and Threats
Introduced predators such as the feral cat will hunt for ghost bats. Feral cats and the red fox will also compete with them for food.
Humans threaten them through habitat loss and fire. They also build barbed wire fences in which these bats will become entangled.
Cave tourism and mining both cause disturbance to populations of the ghost bat.
Ghost bats are also known as the Australian false vampire bat.
Sardaka, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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