New Zealand long-tailed bat (Chalinolobus tuberculatus)

Also known as: Long-tailed wattled bat
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderChiroptera
FamilyVespertilionidae
GenusChalinolobus (1)
SizeWingspan: 25 - 28 cm (2)
Weight8 - 11 g (3)

The New Zealand long-tailed bat is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The New Zealand long-tailed bat (Chalinolobus tuberculatus) is one of only three extant land mammals native to New Zealand (4). The New Zealandlong-tailed bat has black to reddish- or chocolate-brown fur, which is paler on the underparts and darkest on the head and shoulders (2). The short, broad head bears proportionally small ears with rounded tips (2) (3). The long tail, for which it is named, is nearly as long as the body and is almost entirely encompassed by the large interfemoral membrane that stretches between the hind legs (2).

The New Zealand long-tailed bat occurs throughout both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, and is also found on Kapiti Island, Stewart Island, Little Barrier and Great Barrier Islands (3).

The New Zealand long-tailed bat inhabits the edges of forests and forages above the forest canopy, along streams and lakes, and over farmland (4). It roosts in trees, caves, and, less frequently, in buildings (4).

Like many other bats, the New Zealand long-tailed bat is nocturnal (2), leaving its roost at dusk to hunt small, flying insects such as beetles, midges, mosquitoes, moths and mayflies (5). It flies quickly and silently (2), and may use its interfemoral membrane to scoop up insects while in flight (6).

The New Zealand long-tailed bat has been found to roost both alone and in colonies containing many hundreds of individuals (2) (7). Females are generally more gregarious than males, and form crowded maternity roosts during the gestation period, which increases the bat’s temperature and consequently decreases the gestation period (7).

The New Zealand long-tailed bat mates in early autumn and a single offspring is born around mid-December. The young takes flight at five to six weeks old and females bear their first young around the age of two or three years (8).

Over winter the New Zealand long-tailed bat hibernates (2), for up to four or five months in the colder parts of its range and for just a few weeks in warmer regions (9).

Numbers of the New Zealand long-tailed bat have been declining since the 1990s as a result of a number of threats. These include habitat loss, as a result of forest clearance and the cutting of old trees for firewood, predation by domestic and feral cats, possums, rats and introduced mustelids, and disturbance of its roost sites (1) (3).

The New Zealand long-tailed bat is protected by law in New Zealand and is the focus of a national Bat Recovery Plan (1). Current conservation efforts include protecting the bat’s habitat, particularly preferred roost sites such as old trees, controlling predators, and education the public about this declining bat (1).

To find out more about the conservation of the New Zealand long-tailed bat see:

 To learn about bat conservation efforts around the world see:

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 (October, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Dwyer, P.D. (1960) New Zealand bats. Tuatara, 8(2): 62-71.
  3. Department of Conservation- New Zealand long-tailed bat (October, 2010)
    http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/native-animals/bats/long-tailed-bat
  4. Molloy, J. (1995) Bat (Peka Peka) Recovery Plan (Mystacina, Chalinolobus). Threatened Species Unit, Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.
  5. King, C.M. (1990) The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals. Oxford University Press. Auckland, New Zealand.
  6. Department of Conservation (2005) Pekapeka / Bats. Department of Conservation, Christchurch, New Zealand. Available at:
    http://www.doc.govt.nz/upload/documents/about-doc/concessions-and-permits/conservation-revealed/pekapeka-bats-lowres.pdf
  7. Sedgeley, J.A. and O’Donnell, C.F.J. (2004) Roost use by long-tailed bats in South Canterbury: examining predictions of roost site selection in a highly fragmented landscape. New ZealandJournal of Ecology, 28(1): 1-18.
  8. O'Donnell, C.F.J. (2002) Timing of breeding, productivity and survival of long-tailed bats Chalinolobus tuberculatus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) in cold-temperate rainforest in New Zealand. Journal of Zoology, 257(3): 311-323
  9. Daniel, M.J. and Williams, G.R. (1984) A survey of the distribution, seasonal activity and roost sites of the New Zealand bats. New ZealandJournal of Ecology, 7: 9-25.