The Sunshine Coast's luckiest bat!
Article by Clancy Hall, conservation biologist and image by Steve Parish
Tucked away in caves and old tunnels on the Sunshine Coast, you will find a little bat that always wears a lucky horseshoe. The eastern horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus megaphyllus) gets its name from the distinct horseshoe-shape of its noseleaf (facial structure around nose) and is the only species of its kind to be found outside Queensland’s wet tropics.
Why the funny nose? Their complex noseleaf allows horseshoe bats to direct a constant stream of echolocation at a prey item and funnel the returning echo straight to their ears, without distortion. Fossil records indicate that microbats have been using these unusual nasal adornments for over 60 million years!
Eastern horseshoe bats are a fussy species, preferring to hang-out in roosts that provide complete darkness and high humidity (85-95%); especially at this time of year when females come together to birth and raise young. Although pups reach adult size within 5-6 weeks, it will take 2-3 years before they breed.
The Sunshine Coast has limited roosting sites that are suitable for eastern horseshoe bats, so it is important to protect existing locations. You can help by avoiding activities in and around roosting sites, especially in birthing season, as eastern horseshoe bat mothers are known to abandon young if disturbed.