- Residents have built Bat Flats which allow Micro Bats to live in their community and feed on mozzies
Micro Bats range in size from about four to 10cms in length and for generations have been feeding on mosquitoes, flies and other insects to the benefit of residents in Tea Gardens in the northern Hunter Region.
But with the hollow trees that housed the bats making way for new homes, many of the bats are no longer there.
This has allowed the mosquitoes to run rife. That was until the community chose to do something about it.
Local Wildlife Rescue volunteer and ceramic sculpture David Matheson has set about encouraging the Micro Bats to come back to the Tea Gardens area by building what he calls Bat Flats to provide lodgings for the animals.
“We wanted to find them somewhere to stay closer to town because we have a hell of a lot of mozzies here,” Mr Matheson said.
Mr Matheson built several Bat Flats which can be hung in trees or in the eaves of houses allowing the animals to land on a small strip and walk inside away from potential daytime predators.
“The Tea Garden Hawksmith Men’s Shed also has cabinet makers making designs from recycled hardwood based on looking at them on the internet,” he said.
“They take the plans that wildlife people have designed.
“There is probably about 25 to 30 up already but there is another 70 or 80 on the way.
“As long as the landing strip is clear, we have people doing mosaics, painting flannel flowers on them and also obscure artists too coming up with their own ideas.”
Some of the Bat Flats have been decorated saying ‘The Bat Shack’ with a cartoon farmer standing next to it or built to look like a rural cottage.
Local ecologist Anne Williams said the Bat Flats were an excellent idea since the Micro Bats have to eat half their body weight in insects every night.
“The Bat Flats keep them away from the day time predators such as magpies and kookaburras who would eat them,” Ms Williams, from Medowie, said.
“So many trees have been taken down to build houses that the habitat is gone,” she said.
“These Micro Bats aren’t like Fruit Bats and are not Vampire Bats either so they don’t suck on any ones blood. They eats insects like mozzies.
“I think they are very intelligent and very interesting animals.”