Video: New Zealand’s ground-hunting bat

If bats are known for anything, it’s for being the only mammals to evolve flight. Some eat fruit, nectar from flowers, or even fish, but a great many make a living snatching bugs out of the air. It turns out, however, that even with the ability to fly, sometimes it’s easier to just walk. Met the pekapeka – the New Zealand lesser short-tailed bat. It’s the only bat I’m aware of that hunts on the ground, scuttling around on the forest floor looking for insects and other things to eat. The males also apparently sing to attract mates.

They’ve had a rough time of it, but apparently conservation efforts are ongoing, and there may be cause for cautious optimism. This video is a couple years old, but they little critters seem to be holding on:


  1. StevoR says

    Marvellous clip and creature cheers. This has inspired me to add it to my ever growing list of Ennagered Specie sof teh day / Week posted on fb tonight :

    For the ominous Ides of March, a warning for the future of this week’s Endangered Species of the Week; the wonderfully named Pekapeka or, as its longer and less memorable name goes, the New Zealand Lesser Short-tailed bat. (Mystacina tuberculata.) Most bats fly – but, although it does fly a bit too, this tiny not so aerial mammal is more famous for spending a lot of time hunting on the ground catching its main food of insects although it will also eat pollen and fruit. In addition to being two living mammals found on Aotearoa / New Zealand, this little song bat is also renowned for its extraordinary singing with one researcher noting :

    ““The males sing much like a bird,” said Toth. “They go into their singing roost and vocalize for hours…upwards of about 400 songs per minute.” (Bat Conservation Article linked in comments below.)

    The females then choose their mates based on their songs in something called lek breeding which this species is one of only two bats to do! Thes e bats apaprently move as fast on the gorund as theydo inthe air and have been described as “..the bat family’s attempt to produce a mouse.” (See Terra Nature article linked in comments.)

    This is the sole surviving member of the Mystacinidae genus which seems to be quite basal or ancient and early on in the broader bat family – which incidentally composes a whopping quarter of all mammals. Divided into three sub-species; the Northern lesser short-tailed bat (Mystacina tuberculata aupourica) found in just three places, the Central lesser short-tailed bat (Mystacina tuberculata rhyacobi) also found in just three fragmented populations and the Southern (or South Island) lesser short-tailed bat (Mystacina tuberculata tuberculata) found in only two spots, with the species variously listed as vulnerable or endnagered and declining in numbers. Threats include invasive feral pests notbaly feral cats with oen cat beeing thought to have killed a hundred of these little creatures before being trapped as well as feral stoats and rats. They also depend on old growth trees forest for their habitat and have been badly affected by habitat loss due to logging. Clearly in trouble, it seems they are in grave danger of following their larger close cousin species the New Zealand Greater Short-Tailed Bat (Mystacina robusta) which was last seen in 1965 into extinction.

    Sources quoted there are here :

    and here :

    Whilst there’s another funny informative 2 mins long youtube clip on their reproductive strategies here :

    As well to hopefully enjoy.

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