A couple of Patumahoe residents got a surprise when a native neighbourhood bat settled in a corner of their veranda.
Their new guest – around the size of a thumb and weighing around 10g – is intriguing biodiversity specialists.
Long-tailed bats, found only in New Zealand, usually roost in trees and are a sociable species, living in colonies with 10 to 50 other bat friends and family.
So why has this little guy – dubbed ‘Brad the Bachelor’ – ditched his bat friends for humans?
Is it heartbreak? A thirst for adventure? A reclusive inclination?
A rare observation
Auckland Council’s Senior Biodiversity Adviser, Ben “the batman” Paris, says the team is both curious and hopeful about Brad’s presence.
The long-tailed bat population is nationally critical (the same conservation status as our rarest birds) due to predators and deforestation, so Aucklanders are lucky to get a glimpse of a bat – let alone have one tucked under their eaves.
“It’s incredibly rare to observe this,” Ben says. “We’re all a bit gobsmacked.”
Ben does have a few ideas to explain Brad’s antisocial behaviour, suggesting he might be a juvenile male who got kicked out of a maternal roost and hasn’t joined up with a male roost for breeding season yet.
Alternatively, he might have found that the sunny veranda has just the right conditions for him to warm up during the day before flying out each evening.
Predator control efforts having a positive impact
Whatever’s going on in Bachelor Brad’s brain, he’s able to roost in a fairly open area, thanks to Auckland Council and the community’s pest-control efforts, which means he’s safe from pests like rats, possums and feral cats.
“This goes to show that the predator control that Whakaupoko Landcare has carried out in the area is having a positive impact on our indigenous biodiversity,” Ben says.
“The great community-led pest-control work that has been undertaken as part of Pest Free Auckland is paying dividends.”
As part of Pest Free Auckland, Auckland Council has been identifying bat locations using equipment that converts bats' high-frequency sounds, monitoring bats' presence and protecting their habitats.
Help protect the long-tailed bats
Help protect the long-tailed bats by becoming a bat spotter and letting us know if you see any of Brad’s mates or maybe a lonely bat-chelorette!
The best time for bat sightings is during summer. At the current time of year, bats will be looking for hibernating spots to hunker down for winter, which might be what Brad is doing.
You can also protect old or standing dead trees as they are natural bat homes – or plant some trees for Brad’s future pups – if he ever gives up his bachelor lifestyle.
Meanwhile, we’ll see if Brad’s landlords start charging him rent.
Pest Free Auckland 2050 is a community-led conservation programme facilitated by Auckland Council to keep our city’s environment thriving. To get involved, check out Pest Free Auckland 2050 or find a conservation group near you at Nature Space.