My neighbors — two kids and their dad — knocked on my door the other day. Their uncle had sent them a microbat box for Christmas. It needed to be mounted on a tall tree, but they have no big trees. I, on the other hand, have a Very Big Gum tree (eucalyptus), so they asked if they could attach the microbat box to that.
Of course I said yes, adding, “But I don’t know how you’re going to get up there to put it in place. There’s no ladder long enough.”
“No problem,” the dad said. “I’ve got climbing gear.”
So yesterday morning the kids and dad arrived in their hard hats, dad with ropes and pulleys, and the installation process began.
Unfortunately I was running out the door to meet up with a bunch of old schoolfriends. But I grabbed a few snaps. You can see how tall the tree is — and you can just catch a glimpse of the dad in the tree with the kids below.
Before you get anxious about bat bites and rabies, these bats only bite insects, and I wasn’t planning to handle them. In any case, we don’t have rabies in Australia—that’s one of the reasons for our strict customs laws — though bats do carry a virus that is dangerous to humans, and shouldn’t be handled.
I’ve always seen fruit bats (flying foxes) around, gliding out at night, dark silhouettes against the twilight sky. They used to come to feast on the fruit from my old plum tree and my dog used to go bananas, barking at them. That tree split and had to be chopped down, so I don’t see them as much now, unless I’m walking the dog near the creek at twilight
In the daytime the fruit bats (flying foxes) sleep in bat colonies in dense clumps of trees high up, looking a bit like lumpy old black umbrellas.
But microbats are a whole new thing to me. As you can imagine, they’re tiny — here’s a photo of one. (Terri-Anne Kingsley – ABC Local) And while fruit bats live on fruit and flowers, microbats live on insects — they say just one microbat can eat up to 1200 mosquitoes in an hour. I love the sound of that. I hate mosquitoes.
Here’s some info about microbats from this site:
“These tiny creatures generally live in colonies of half a dozen. They are excellent insect controllers, consuming at least 50% of their body weight in insects every night.Their droppings are not known to be a source of disease and will dry quickly with little or no odour. Microbats are clean and sociable animals that will not gnaw wood, wires or insulation.” So I’m looking forward to living with my tiny new neighbors — whenever they move in, that is.