Project Description

Microbat Care

About 20-40 microbats a year come into care at Tolga Bat Hospital. Those species that commonly require microbat care are listed below. It is very important to identify the species so that you know what to feed them and how to house them. It is also important to identify if they are adult or juvenile and this is best done by holding the outstretched wing up to the light and looking for open growth plates. The time of year is a good guide to this as well, as microbats do not have much variability within a species in birthing times.

You must be vaccinated for rabies and trained in their rehabilitation and identification to do microbat care.  The best advice for rearing, rehabilitating and releasing microbats can be gained from the Australian Microbat Rehabilitation Forum on Facebook. You can download a very informative manual once you are a member and ask questions online. It’s a closed group, email us if you have trouble joining.

It is very important to be able to test fly microbats before releasing them. We have a beautiful Microbat cage that allows us to assess the flight of all but the biggest microbats.

Eastern Freetail (Ozimops ridei)

These are not an easy species with which to learn the basics of microbat care. They are the most common species we have coming into care at the Bat Hospital. They are easy to rear as orphans, but not always easy to feed as adults. Normally we start by hand-feeding the guts of mealworms, and then try to progress onto whole worms with head removed so a nutrient supplement will stick to it. If being kept in medium to long-term, we try to get them self feeding the whole worms. If this fails then a blended mealworm formula is usually the easier and more nutritious option.  The recipe for this is in the Australian Microbat Rehabilitation  Manual. This species does not readily eat whole worms or self feed. They are very content to stay put and reluctant to fly away when being released. They commonly roost in the ceilings of older buildings and then sometimes come into care from falling through the ceiling and being trapped inside. Many come into care as juveniles learning to fly, or adults through misadventure. eg fractures, caught in sinks.

Eastern free tail microbats can be difficult to feed in care
Northern broad nosed microbats are easy to feed in care.

Northern Broadnosed Bat (Scotorepens sanborni)

These little bats come into care from the drier parts of the Tablelands, especially around Mareeba. They are easy to rear as orphans and feed as adults, and so an easy species to learn the basics of microbat care.

Lindy’s Freetail (Ozimops lumsdenae)

These Freetail bats only come into our care from the coast, never the Tablelands. As adults they are much easier to feed whole worms than the smaller O. ridei. They occur widely across the northern half of Australia. Weighing 12-18 grams they are a little heavier than the Mexican free tail bat (Tadarida brasiliensis). All species of Freetails have long narrow wings which makes them fast flyers who forage above canopy. The Mexican free tail bat is the fastest flying animal on earth, it has been clocked flying 160kms/hour and foraging for insects 2 kms high

Lindy's freetail microbats are easy to feed in care.
Three young microbats from a maternity roost of fishing bats

Fishing Bat (Myotis adversus)

These bats use their large feet to catch small fish and insects from the surface of the water, they will still eat whole mealworms quite well in captivity. The pups are easy to rear. Our most dramatic experience with this species was with a localised heat stress event. affecting a maternity roost. They were roosting with young just under a metal roof and we suddenly got a lot of very hot weather. Over 20 were found on the floor of the shed over 2 days. This photo shows a group of 3 young just about to get their hair.

Eastern Long-eared Bat (Nyctophilus bifax)

This species roosts in a number of locations around the verandahs of the Bat Hospital. I have found one on the ground carrying twins. It had attempted to fly around a 90 degree corner of the enclosed verandah. The batbox was only a few metres away so I was able to just pop the mother and twins inside. Sometimes they roost in large clay hanging bats, or inside a box air conditioner.

Orphans often come into care in January from banana farms. Their mothers choose to roost between the hands of bananas under the plastic covers. When the bunch of bananas is picked and brought into the packing shed, the plastic is ripped off and the bunch goes through a wash. The pups tend to fall out and the mothers fly off.

The pups are easy to rear, and they learn to eat whole mealworms quite easily. They are a good species to learn the basics of orphan microbat care. We’ve released small groups of 3-4 together and they have always come back to the release cage each morning for some time. It’s a great opportunity to weigh them to check they are coping in the wild. To date they always have.

Northern long-eared bats learn to feed whole worms very quickly when in care.