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Ghost bat - Australian false vampire bat


photographed as it became accustomed to its new haunt in a wildlife exhibit.
The ghost bat - so named for its white underbelly - as photographed in mid-flight at the Sydney wildlife centre.

Macroderma gigas or the Ghost Bat is found in Northern Australia where it has a scattered distribution. It is found north of 29°S in Western Australia, Northern Territories, and Queensland.This bat is one of four young bats born at a wildlife park on the outskirts of Sydney before being moved to the Wildlife World enclosure at Sydney's Darling Harbour to mix with other Australian native animals.
There are only an estimated 5,000 ghost bats left in the wild as their habitat in the northern reaches of Australia shrinks under pressure from mining, tourists visiting their caves, and competition from other animals such as foxes and feral cats for the bats' food - frogs and small mammals.

Known for their big ears and the thin membrane of their wings, they are a spectacular sight when caught in a sudden blaze of light.

Scientists refer to them as Macroderma gigas but the carnivorous creatures are also known as False Vampire Bats. They kill the prey with their powerful jaws and carry them to a roost to feed.

At first officials at the Darling Harbour enclosure were concerned about how well the night-flying bats would adapt to their new surroundings.

But in no time they were fluttering around their darkened glassed-in pen, scaring the living daylights out of visitors as they zoomed towards them before making a last minute change of direction.

The pen includes a specially-built cave to make it warm, dark and humid, imitating the caves their brothers and sisters occupy in the wild.

'We're now hoping to get some female ghost bats from other zoos as part of a nationwide breeding programme,' said mammal keeper Kate Blount. 'These first four have settled in well.

'We thought at first we might not be able to see them if they stayed hidden in some dark corner, but they've been flying around all day.

'We can even hear their little chirps through the glass. Everyone who has seen them has been wowed.'

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Megabats and Microbats: Ghost bat - Australian false vampire bat
Ghost bat - Australian false vampire bat
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