source : abc.net.au
Name: Ghost Bat
Scientific Name: Macroderma gigas
Alternative names: false vampire bat
Distribution: caves and mineshafts in Northern Australia
Ghost bats get their name from the super thin membrane of their wings, which makes them look like ghosts when they’re flying at night. These little pale-coloured bats grow up to 13cm in body length and weight up to only 140g but they have a huge wingspan of 60cm.
They use sharp little teeth, big eyes and huge ears to hunt, and find their food using echolocation. The high-pitched sound they make rebounds of objects and the echo tells them where things are with reasonable accuracy. Once they’ve locked on to a target, they swoop and wrap their big wings around it before killing it with strong bites. They then take their dinner to a designated feeding place to eat. Being Australia’s only carnivorous bat, they mainly eat insects, reptiles, frogs, birds and small mammals, including other bats.
Mama bats separate themselves from daddy bats by creating nursing colonies to raise their young. They are pregnant for about 3 months before giving birth to one little critter. Once they are old enough to hunt, they join their mum on food runs until they become independent.
Their conservation status is vulnerable due to the destruction of caves and mine shafts, and when one home is destroyed, up to 400 bats go with it. Their feeding grounds are also being destroyed by agriculture.
The one and only time we saw a ghost bat was at the Cutta Cutta Caves, just south of Katherine. We went on a tour and there they were, hanging about on the ceiling of the cave, occasionally chirping and flying over our heads.