Bats hit the headlines.

The local bats at Bibra Lake have become famous. The local newspaper “The West Australian”, asked if they could include a article in their paper. Of course I jumped at the chance. Here is an opportunity to help educate the  public on micro bats in general and the explain the benefits of having them around. The box I choose to remove a bat for the photograph was completely full of bats. They were all huddled up together keeping cuddly and warm. I bet this little bat didn’t think he was going to be the ambassador for his species. In the coming Summer I will be creating some more Youtube videos of them moving around in the box.

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Bats speak up to avoid a jam.

Bats can locate their prey using echolocation without confusion even when immersed in a thick swarm of many hundreds of other bats, and now researchers have discovered the secret. The winged mammals raise the pitch of their echolocation calls to make them stand out against “jamming signals”.

The finding helps explain how hundreds of bats can hunt in the same area without getting confused by others’ calls, and could perhaps inform the design of better radar systems for aircraft.

Bats use the echo pattern of their voice to locate insects and other prey – so confusing echoes can cost them dinner. A new study reveals that the flying mammals use a wide range of pitches and simply raise the pitch of their echolocation calls to stand out against other bat calls at the same frequency.

Erin Gillam of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, US, and colleagues conducted experiments on Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) in the wild.

Read more from New Scientist…..

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Do we have bats???

A common question asked probably right throughout the world is “Do we have bats here??”. This is asked by many newcomers who have never had any exposure to any bats. Many people seem to know about the flying foxes or fruit bats due to their exposure in the media but not so much with the micro bats. This video below talks about the bats in the local suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. This can also apply to any suburb.

It answers the question. “Do we have bats in our suburb”????
Well worth watching.

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How to install a Micro Bat box

Micro bat box Installation Tips

Bat boxes ready for painting.

 

 

1) Installation Height: Whatever you feel like.

2) Orientation: Spin the compass.

3) Air space below box. Yep, need it.

4) Reasonably quiet location.  They love Mozart.

5) Location: Anywhere around your place

6) Inspection. Don’t shine a torch up there.

7) Arrival: Pray to God.

Have fun

Joe Tonga.

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Why should we care about bats?

Forget what you see in horror movies. Contrary to what people think, bats do not get caught in people’s hair and they don’t attack anyone. In fact, there are no vampire bats in Australia

Bats are extremely important to the ecosystem. They prey on night flying insects helping to control insect populations. A single bat can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes a night, which is roughly the equivalent of their body weight. Bats play a critical role in their ability to act as an environmentally friendly insect repellent.

Locally bats roost in tree hollows or under bark, in areas where there are limestone caves they use these. Over the years, the bat population has been steadily declining. This is due to declining habitat caused by growing development and urbanization.

The presence of bats indicates the health of the ecosystem. Creating and improving habitat for bats will also provide habitat for other wildlife

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"Turn me Loose" bat box building workshop

Well, what an awesome workshop. Guys and girls got together and we turned them loose with drill guns, glue and hammers.  A fun few hours was had by all, even the mums wanted to be in on the act. We started at a local carpark then walked through a Tuart forest which is a regular bat habitat. After eyeballing the trees where the local bat dudes hang out we walked to a house and had a brief session on what ,where and how the bats hang loose by watching videos.

Then the serious stuff started. Standing all in a line behind the table the mass bat box building was off and running. With glue sticking to their fingers (I offered to amputate)no show, the screws were screwing and glue was flowing. And hey, no glue stuck to their clothes. They were careful. Must have been listening to the crazy instructor.

What a turnout. The boxes were beautifully built. Any mad bat would love to hang out in such cool looking homes.  The guys and girls wrote welcoming messages on the boxes. Hope the bats can read…

In their excitement some of the guys tried to use two glue guns at once(to make sure the box wouldn’t fall apart) while the girls, as girls normally do, just like having fun and made some solid looking homes all at the same time. Now, of course we couldn’t hold back the mums and helpers. They leapt in the game and helped…..just a little.

All in all a great day out. Now I just have to sand and paint them. The next stage is installing them in the reserve close by. When the bats find them I’ll keep everybody posted by the website.

cheers

Batman (alias Joe Tonga)

Soooooo , hang in there and stay tuned….

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Bibra Lake micro bats

Caught in action.

Out for Take-Away. One bat eats 1,000 mosquitoes per night.

Exciting news…..The bats have found the boxes. A community bat box building workshop which happened at Bibra Lake in October 2008 has been successful. This is simply fabulous news. Normally micro bats can take up to three years to find new homes but at Bibra Lake it has only taken less than two months. A recent inspection(Friday 9th January 2009) revealed two micro bats hanging off the rear wall of box number 8. Janene was the culprit who built this box and written on it was “Good luck little buddies”. Well, She gave it the midus touch because this is the first that the bats have found. This box is installed in about the middle of a cluster of thirteen. Attached to young trees which are only about 30 years old, the boxes are installed at about 6 metres high, they face approximately due North to maximise thermal exposure. The bats require tremendous heat to create nurseries.

These micro bats can be observed from the ground by shining a torch up into the entrance. This will only light up the rear wall but it will give you some idea whether the bats are there or not. If you decide to do this please only keep the light on the bats for a short period. They can be disturbed too easily.

17th April 2009.

A infra red video camera was set up beneath number 8 box to check how many bats were exiting. Good news , seven bats flew out in the space of about 12 minutes. Interesting enough some dived out of the box and didn’t switch on their echo location until well after they left the immediate area.

7th March 2010.

The bats are taking up the boxes on a regular basis now. Two boxes had 28 bats in them. It took them a year but they found one of the sand-filled bat tubes.  Another has been added just recently.At least six were in there making themselves comfortable. They also have started using the “Coffee stop” boxes. These are only short stay homes to roost in. Just like humans like to socialise and have a coffee somewhere that’s what the bats like. Not to have coffee of course…..

Coffee Stop Box

While filming at night for more Youtube videos, a night predator flew up and landed close to one of the boxes. This was a Tawny Frogmouth. He tries to catch the bats. This is an important reason why bats always like to switch their roosts. Keeps the predators confused.

Tawny Frogmouth waiting to pounce on the bats.

Bat box location

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PVC FatBat Homes

PVC Bat Tube

PVC Bat Tube

We are constantly striving to better our products and looking at materials which last for many more years than timber.

We have discovered a heavy polyethylene pvc which has a life of 50+ years. These are in the form of heavy duty plastic pipes. For this product we have targeted the micro bats. The pipe is covered on the inside  with a special render which in effect looks and feels like cement.

On the inside the micro bats can easily scamper about with no trouble hanging on to the render. Also it is possible to open the top lid and peer inside to view the bats. It is obvious if they have been there because they will leave guano deposits on the bottom.

Testing with temperature data probes inside the tube indicates it heats up very quickly but cannot retain the heat for long periods. This is expected for type of material used. We predict it would be used by the bats as a winter roost.

Several metropolitian bush sites have been chosen for installation. At John Forest National Park they have already have started coming.

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Bibra Lake Bat box Workshop

A group of caring participants came together and completed a bat box building workshop at Bibra Lake. They watched a slide show presentation which ,amongst other information, had unique bat videos filmed locally. After learning about some interesting facts on the local bats they entered the building stage. Ten timber boxes were constructed using screws, liquid nails and wood joining biscuits.

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After the new homes are completed they will be installed throughout the Bibra Lake Reserve waiting for the new tenants.

Details and photographs will be posted as the bats take up residence.

Stay tuned…..

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Bat power and midnight swims

<br />Bats land on pole at the bottom of the steel channel

Bats land on pole at the bottom of the steel channel then climb up inside

While researching micro bats and their habitats, particularly in the metropolitan areas, we engage in some unusual activities. About two years ago I heard that a colony of bats were roosting on a power pole. They were actually hiding in a steel “U” shaped extension sitting at the very top on this pole. Myself and a friend decided to park our car a short distance from this roost and watch the bats emerge. Now, I don’t know about you but if you see some strangers sitting in a parked car on your front verge  acting a little weird I would be a touch suspicious. Anyhow, to allay the fears of the person who lived opposite where we parked our car , I decided to go and knock on the front door and explain who I was and what was I doing there. The lady who came to the front door was relieved at my explanation and then said the following comments: ” Is that why I keep on finding dead bats in my swimming pool”. Yes, as you may have guessed it, the young bats were coming out of the roost and diving down for a drink in her pool. They would hit the water and then stop and become waterlogged with their fur all wet thus becoming heavy. Poor things. They couldn’t climb out.

Now this video shown is not the pool in the story, but it does show you that micro bats do come down and drink in swimming pools.

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