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Read about WIRES native animal rescue and care stories and updates on WIRES work with wildlife.

Australia's only true fishing bat

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Andrew from Bobbin Head Marina, called WIRES when he found a tiny microbat on the ground. He put it in a shoebox with some t-shirt material to hang from. WIRES volunteer, Sara went to pick up the pup the next morning and quickly realised that it was very young indeed. The tiny male microbat weighed just 3g, had no fur, and his eyes were only partially open. He was cold and very dehydrated.

Sara rushed him home, and gave him subcutaneous fluids and a warm drink, and then set about contacting more experienced microbat carers both at WIRES and Sydney Wildlife to find out more about how to look after him, and how to identify what species he was.
He turned out to be a Large-footed myotis (Myotis macropus) Australia's only true fishing bat. These bats roost near water use their long clawed feet to scrape the water for fish and insects. They find them using echolocation, bouncing sounds off the water to detect minuscule movements by the fish.

Even in care his survival is not guaranteed. Their survival rate is poor. He will need very high humidity, warmth, feeds every 4-5 hours throughout the day and night, plus a few minutes of sunshine each day.

By the 5th day in care, second photo, he was starting to look like less like Yoda and more like a bat and he was really active, feeding very enthusiastically, and it was time to move him to Sarah at Sydney Wildlife. She also has adult bats of this species in care: this is critical for the pup’s development, as he needs to learn to communicate with other myotis bats as soon as possible.
Once he’s old enough, he will be taught to catch and eat live insects, allowed to practise flying, and will finally be released back at the site of his original rescue.

Getting this little bat as far as this has involved a lot of work by a lot of different people – thanks so much to everyone! – and to Sarah, who will care for him until he’s old enough to get back out into the wild.

Please remember only fully trained and vaccinated volunteers should handle bats or flying-foxes of any sort. Call WIRES 1300 094 737 for advice if you find one in distress.