Little pied bat (Chalinolobus picatus)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderChiroptera
FamilyVespertilionidae
GenusChalinolobus (1)
SizeHead-body length: 4.5 - 4.9 cm (2)
Forearm length: 3.1 - 3.6 cm (2)
Tail length: 2.9 - 4.2 cm (2)
Weight4 - 8 g (2)
Top facts

The little pied bat is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The little pied bat (Chalinolobus picatus) is a small Australian bat which is named for its distinctive black and white fur. Glossy black fur covers the top of this species’ body, and the fur on its belly is dark grey. Most strikingly, the white fur on each side of its belly joins to form a ‘V’ shape at its feet (3) (4).

As in other bats of this genus, the little pied bat’s lower lip is lined with fleshy lobes (5). These lobes give the lips a protruding appearance, much like a horse with a bridle, hence the scientific name Chalinolobus, which comes from words meaning ‘bridle lobe’ (3). The little pied bat is the smallest known Australian member of its genus (3).

The little pied bat is found exclusively in southeast Australia, in New South Wales, southern Queensland and South Australia (1) (4) (5) (6), as well as in a small part of Victoria (4) (5).

The little pied bat tends to live in dry open eucalypt forests, woodlands and tall shrubland (1) (4) (7), where it is found roosting in tree hollows and caves (1) (4) (6) (8). This species tolerates warm to tropical temperatures, sometimes exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (3), and can survive in dry areas if there is access to nearby open water (4).

The little pied bat prefers roosting in tree hollows and caves, but will also live inside abandoned buildings (1) (4) (6) (8). Colonies of this species may number up to 50 individuals (1). The little pied bat hunts in vegetated areas, and is unlikely to be found flying in the open (3). During the night, this species forages around water for small flying insects, such as moths (2) (4).

Given the difficulty in observing this species, there is little specific information available on the biology and behaviour of the little pied bat. However, it is known to breed during the spring and summer and it has two young per litter, although the number of litters per year is unknown (2).

The main threat to the little pied bat is the loss of its feeding and roosting habitat due to the clearing of land for cotton production, grazing, timber and agriculture (1) (6). The loss of mature trees and the removal of old buildings are likely to reduce the available roosting sites for this species (6).

Other potential threats to the little pied bat include disturbance at its roosts, the use of pesticides around its foraging areas, and predation by cats (1) (4). Altered fire regimes are also likely to impact upon the habitat of this distinctive small bat (1) (6).

There is a need to find and protect current roosting and feeding sites of the little pied bat. This species occurs in several protected areas in Australia, but further studies are needed into its distribution, biology, abundance and threats (1) (6). More research is also needed to create a tailored conservation programme to protect and manage the habitat of this bat (7). In addition, the little pied bat would benefit from the control of feral cats and a reduction in the use of pesticides (4).

Find out more about the little pied bat:

More information on bat conservation:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2012)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Menkhorst, P. and Knight, F. (2001) A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  3. Turner, J.R. (2004) Mammals of Australia: An Introduction to their Classification, Biology and Distribution. Pensoft Publishers, Sofia, Bulgaria.
  4. NSW Government, Office of Environment & Heritage - Little pied bat (October, 2013)
    http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10159
  5. Nowak, R.M. (1991) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  6. Duncan, A., Baker, G.B. and Montgomery, N. (1999) The Action Plan for Australian Bats. Environment Australia, Canberra, Australia. Available at:
    http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/bats/
  7. Schulz, M., de Oliveira, M.C. and Eyre, T. (1994) Notes on the little pied bat Chalinolobus picatus in central Queensland. Queensland Naturalist, 33: 35-38.
  8. Churchill, S. (2008) Australian Bats. Second Edition. Allen & Unwin, New South Wales.