New Zealand is a strange land with some very unusual creatures that occupy ecological spaces occupied by mammals in other places. Kiwis take up the space of ground-dwelling insect-eating mammals. The large parrot Kakapos takes the place of foraging mammals looking for seed and leaves.
And these bats, rather than focus on flying, have taken on the ecological space that mice generally occupy. They live mostly on the forest floor where they forage for insects and vegetation.
This family of bats( Mystacinidae stands for upper lip with a beard on it ) consists of only one living species, The lesser Short-Tailed Bat ( M. tuberculata for the tube-like snout).
Bats are unusual creatures as it is but these are more so.
- They spend much of the time on the ground, instead of flying, and are unique in having the ability to fold their wings into a leathery membrane when not in use. The wings are also not attached to the tail like other bats.
- The bat has a long, conical snout, with lots of whiskers, that ends in large, tubular nostrils. The tongue is long and slender, and has a number of hair-like structures at the tip, that aid in feeding upon nectar.
- Another unique distinguishing feature of the species is the presence of small talons at the base of the main claws on both its toes and wings, thought to aid in both crawling and climbing.
The bat has very thick fur for insulation and is quite small, weighing in at 20 gms. and with a size of about 6-7 cm.
This species of bat are mostly found in the North Island and is very vulnerable due to the inadvertent import of cats, mice and other small mammals to New Zealand. Conservation efforts are ongoing in national parks to make sure that local creatures can be conserved as much as possible.
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