Ghost Bat Stories at Taronga Zoo
November 19, 2014
Taronga Zoo, in Australia, is celebrating its first successful birth of a Ghost Bat pup in 15 years!
Photo Credits: Vanessa Stebbings/ Taronga Zoo
Born last month, the pup is the first for Taronga’s new breeding pair, ‘Celeste’ and ‘Nocturne’. The birth is also an encouraging sign for the regional breeding program for this vulnerable species.
Despite the challenges of breeding Ghost Bats, keepers are pleased with the progress of the pup, which can already be spotted on display at the Zoo’s Australian Nightlife exhibit.
Keeper, Wendy Gleen, said it may be a little while until keepers can determine the sex of the pup, so they are yet to choose a name. “The pup has been clinging to its mother for warmth and security, clutching onto her neck with its back legs,” said Wendy.
Ghost Bats are Australia's largest microbat, and their only carnivorous bat, preying on large insects, frogs, birds, lizards and small mammals, including other bats. As predators, they are important in the control of rodents, especially house-mice. Their name comes from the beautiful ‘ghost-like’ appearance of their wings in the moonlight.
Populations are under threat in the wild due to the loss of feeding habitat and destruction of caves and old mine shafts. “Ghost Bats are particularly vulnerable to mining, which can threaten their maternity caves,” said Wendy.
Wendy also said the birth of the pup provides a great opportunity for visitors to see these stunning but elusive creatures up close. “Ghost Bats are difficult to spot in the wild, as they often live in complete darkness and hide in remote caves. They’ve got the most amazing facial structures and use echolocation to find their way in the dark. Our modern sonar systems could probably learn a thing or two from these bats’ natural talents,” she said.
The Ghost Bat is native to Australia and currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. With less than 10,000 mature individuals, there has been a gradual decline in numbers, and there is a potential for an even faster rate of decline within the next few generations.