Things are shaky in NZ

Baturday News is a weekly blog written by Rachael, a high school student, bat advocate, and Save Lucy volunteer. Rachael’s interest in bats was sparked by the big brown bats that used the outside of her former home for a winter roost. Rachael has been writing the Baturday News for over three years.

A letter from Senator Mark Warner to Blogger Rachael acknowledging her work on behalf of bats.
A lovely letter of appreciation from Senator Warner to Blogger Rachael.

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a good week! I had an awesome one! Earlier this week, I got a letter from Senator Warner! That was really exciting. He congratulated me on being a member of Bat Squad. It’s pretty amazing to get a letter from a senator! Senator Warner used to be the governor of VA and I think he likes bats. When he was governor, he designated the Virginia Big Eared bat as our state bat. The Virginia Big Eared bat is an adorable bat with huge ears. Sadly, it is endangered. Not only is Senator Warner an important politician who likes bats, but he is a poet too! You can read his poem here.

A photograph of a long-tailed bat from New Zealand.
A long-tailed bat, native to New Zealand. Photo courtesy NZ Department of Conservation (Creative Commons 4.0).

In other news, there was an earthquake in New Zealand this week. It was a pretty big earthquake that stranded thousands of people. It also brought part of the ocean floor up onto the beach! Because of the earthquake, I thought it would be nice to research bats of New Zealand.

It turns out that bats are the only land mammals native to New Zealand and they are in trouble. New Zealand only has two kinds of bats – the long-tailed bat and the lesser short-tailed bat. They had a third kind of bat called the greater short-tailed bat, but it is thought to be extinct. The remaining bats are endangered.

The long-tailed bat is closely related to five other species of bats that are found in Australia. They are also called wattled or lobe-lipped bats because of their really interesting mouths. They are smaller than the short-tailed bats and are a pretty chestnut brown. Their echo-location can be heard by people because it is a lower frequency than most bats. You can read more about them here.

A photograph of a short-tailed bat.
A short-tailed bat, the eonly other mammal native to New Zealand. Photo courtesy NZ Department of Conservation (Creative Commons 4.0).

The short-tailed bat is a very interesting little bat. They don’t catch their prey in the air. Instead, they have adapted to be able to hunt on the ground! They crawl around on the ground with folded wings. They have large pointed ears and a free tail and are a nice mousy-gray. They eat insects, fruit, nectar and pollen. They are an important pollinator of the woodrose, which is a threatened plant. You can read more about them here.

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