Article by Clancy Hall, conservation biologist and image by Dr Les Hall
Stealth by night
As night falls on the Sunshine Coast, our insect exterminators take flight in search of their evening meal. One of the last species to emerge will be the region’s stealthiest little predator, Gould’s long-eared bat (Nyctophilus gouldi; meaning Gould’s night-lover). This tiny bat will wait patiently and use its enormous ears and large eyes to ambush sonar-sensitive insects as they flutter past. They also have highly sophisticated echolocation which enables the fine detection of prey details such as size, shape, texture and relative speed.
Like many microbat species, the females form maternity roosts in tree hollows which provide specialised conditions, while males are more transient and either roost alone or in small groups of up to six individuals. Birthing season occurs in late spring with twins a common occurrence. Females are reported to gain more than 50% of their body weight prior to giving birth– yikes!
Although Gould’s long-eared bats are listed as common, they are still threatened by habitat destruction and the loss of hollow bearing trees. They also fall prey to domestic cats due to their slow, lofty flight and foraging behaviour close to the ground.
How can you help?
This local species will readily occupy urban bat boxes. Keep insect numbers down in your backyard by making a bat box or purchasing a ready-made box from a local craftsperson.
If you would like to build your own box visit the Hollow Log Homes website for plans and designs. They also have boxes to purchase.