When people think of bats, they often conjure up images of blood sucking vampires. For South Australian bats, nothing could be further from the truth. All bat species in SA eat insects, not only mosquitoes but species that are pests to agriculture and some bat species will fly 30km in a night in search of their insect prey.
If you look up at the streetlights on a warm summer night you might be lucky enough to spot a small black figure
darting around in an effort to gather insects – this most likely would be one of the 9 bat species that inhabit
metropolitan Adelaide. Bats are unique and fascinating – they are the only mammals that can fly and are either
nocturnal (active at night) or crepuscular (active during twilight at dawn or dusk).
It is thought that nearly all bat species that occurred in the Adelaide area prior to European settlement in 1836
still occur today, although their relative abundance has most likely declined. Certain fauna have coped better
with changes as a result of urbanisation, and it is believed that due to their ability to fly and escape from predators,
bats have coped better than other native mammal species.
The primary factors that influence the conservation of native bat species is the availability of resources, food
sources, roosts, and the presence of environmental pollutants.
Bats provide many benefits and play an important role in controlling insect populations. Despite frequently being
portrayed in a bad light, our local bat species are harmless.
All bats found in the Adelaide region are insectivorous. Therefore the best way to encourage bats to visit your
area is to include a wide variety of native plants in your garden – especially shrub and ground cover species. The
presence of a variety of native plants attracts native insects, which in turn can attract bats.
Providing Roosting Habitat
Clearance of larger trees since European settlement has led to a lack of suitable roosting habitat and increased
competition for hollows from introduced species such as honey-bees. As previously mentioned some species have
greater adaptability and seek shelter in artificial roosts such as buildings. In natural conditions bats seek shelter
in tree hollows or under bark. Eucalyptus trees address all habitat requirements.
Avoid using chemicals such as pesticides as they have a detrimental affect on the food supply for bats. Some
pesticides can also accumulate in the fat tissue of bats, and when mobilised can cause sickness or even death.