Hearing an unusual noise at 3am last night, we turned on the light to see that one of our cats had caught a bat, and was in the process of dragging it under the bed. In our half-asleep state, we noticed a second bat laying on the carpet. We’re not sure how one cat managed to catch two bats inside a cat enclosure, but we were awake enough to save one of them. Before we let it go, we took the above photograph to aid identification of the species.
It’s always disappointing to know that we can’t protect all of the wildlife by making sure our cats are contained within the cat enclosure. Unfortunately, we can’t stop small animals coming into the enclosure through the trellis. Still, with the flying ability of bats, and the large area of the enclosure, it must have been a demonstration of extraordinary hunting skills to catch two bats. Our other cat was asleep when all of the commotion occurred, so I am guessing she didn’t have a part in the hunt.
From what I can see, this is the same species of bat which is nesting near the house, as photographed in a previous post. Now that I have an image of the face and the ears, I can narrow down the species a little further. Previously, I thought we may have had Common Bentwing Bats, but I can now see that the ears are too pointed, and the tail protrudes from the membrane, discounting this theory. My best guess is that we have a colony of Eastern False Pipistrelle bats. The description in the field guide points to their reddish appearance, the long narrow ears with rounded points and a lobe that is prominent and covering the aperture. It also describes small eyes, sparsely furred muzzle and a lack of wattle around the mouth that some other bats posses.
Eastern False Pipistrelle’s eat insects, so it makes sense they would be near the house, where lights attract moths and other night-flying insects. In addition to echo-location, they have good sight and good hearing and use all three in their hunt for food. It’s a wonder they didn’t see the cat approaching! However, the field guide also mentions they have limited maneuverability, so perhaps that was the problem.
Apparently, these bats are not rare in Victoria, but they are becoming less common in New South Wales due to lack of habitat. They roost in single sex colonies of between 3 to 36 bats.
The facts I’ve listed come from my two field guides “Cronin’s Key Guide to Australian Mammals’ by Leonard Cronin and ‘The Field Companion to the Mammals of Australia” edited by Steve Van Dyck, Ian Gynther and Andrew Baker.