Two groups of bat occur in Western Australia: Flying-foxes (megabats) and insectivorous bats (microbats). Most of the time, humans and bats co-exist without any problems. In townships and urban areas, Flying-foxes may cause a nuisance via noise and odour.
They can also damage backyard and commercial fruit trees. The only effective method of damage control is to install taut netting over a frame. Thin nylon (monofilament) netting should not be used as the bats can become entangled.
Scaring may also be effective. Insectivorous bats that roost in buildings can be excluded by blocking entry points and installing one-way valves during the non-breeding season.
Identification and Distribution:
There are over 75 species of bat described in Australia and these native mammals fall into two main groups: the megabats and the microbats. Megabats, commonly known as flying-foxes, can weigh over a kilogram and are principally nectar and fruit eating species.
Microbats are mainly insectivorous cave roosting species and may be as small as 40 mm in length (Nevill 2005).
A key to the Families and Genera of Bats can be found in Menkhorst and Knight (2004). This publication summarises information from Menkhorst and Knight (2004) on some of the more commonly encountered bats in Western Australia.
Black Flying-fox Pteropus alecto:
A large all black flying-fox 230-280 mm in length and 590-980 g in weight. This species sometimes has reddish-brown fur on the back of the head. Common in the tropical and sub-tropical forests and woodlands of the northern coast from Exmouth Gulf east to northern New South Wales.
Little Red Flying-fox Pteropus scapulatus:
This species is smaller that the Black Flying-fox as it is 125-200 mm in length and 300-600 g in weight. The body fur of this flying-fox is entirely reddish- brown, sometimes with yellow fur on the back of the head. The head is dark grey or pale grey and the wings are light brown and translucent in flight.
The Little Red Flying-fox occurs in the coastal regions of northern and eastern Australia from Shark Bay north and east to northern Victoria.
White-striped Freetail-bat Tadarida
australis A large robust bat, 85-100 mm in length and 33-41 g in weight. This bat is characterised by white stripes along its flanks, under its wings. It sometimes has white patches on the chest. The ears are broad and ribbed and the lip is wrinkled.
This species is widespread and common across the southern parts of the Australian mainland and it occurs in a wide range of habitats including urban areas.
Gould’s Wattled Bat Chalinolobus gouldii:
This bat is 31-46 mm in length and 7-16 g in weight. It is the largest of the lobe-lipped bats, which have a fleshy lobe at the base of the corner of the mouth extending to the base of the ear. Gould’s Wattled Bat has a blackish head and shoulders and a brown rump and back. It is common throughout mainland Australia, except Cape York Peninsula.
Chocolate Wattled Bat Chalinolobus morio:
The Chocolate Wattled Bat is similar to Gould’s Wattled Bat and is also a lobe-lipped bat, but the lobes on its lips are not as obvious. This bat is 39- 49 mm in length and 5.5-10.3 g in weight. Its fur is a uniform rich brown, but inland populations may be paler with pale grey underparts. It occurs across southern and eastern Australia, with isolated inland populations in the Pilbara.
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