Bats (pekapeka) are, and always have been, New Zealand’s only native land mammal. There are two types of endemic bat – the long-tailed (pekapeka-tou-roa) and the lesser short-tailed (pekapeka-tou-poto). The long-tailed bat has the highest threat classification of Threatened - Nationally Critical. This means their population is expected to decline by up to 70% in the next three generations.
Many residents of Taitokerau are surprised to learn that there are colonies of long-tailed bats living in forests on the edge of Whangārei. These bats are established in Pukenui and Otaika forests but have recently also been discovered in Tāika Forest. This exciting discovery provides hope that pest control in and around Tāika Forest has helped this taonga species to continue to survive. It is unknown if the bats in these locations are isolated populations or form part of a larger colony that calls Whangārei home.
Pekapeka-tou-roa often go unnoticed, as they fly at dusk and leave little sign of their presence. They are insectivores catching flying insects such as moths and beetles mid-flight. These intriguing creatures use echo location to find their food and can fly at up to 60km/h. Due to their preference for roosting in cavities of old large trees, they are increasingly vulnerable to predation from rats, stoats, possums and cats.
Long-tailed bat facts
- Dark brown /black furry torso with membrane wings
- Wingspan c25cm
- Weight 8 to 14g
- Roost in large, old trees
- They can change roosts almost nightly
- Social animals, living in roosts of up to 50 bats
- Breeding females give birth to one pup per year and carry them during feeding flights until adolescence at 4-6 weeks
- Use echo location to identify food when flying. Pekapeka emit high-frequency sounds that are inaudible to the human ear, but can be picked up by a bat detector.
How you can help
Backyard trapping will help provide a safer habitat for bats. By trapping outside the forest, a wider buffer zone is created to protect the areas where bats are vulnerable, helping Aotearoa to its collective goal of being Predator Free by 2050.
- Start small with one or two rat traps
- Use a trap box to minimise harm to pets and children
- Form a trapping group with neighbours and friends
- Find inspiration from within our community by connecting with local groups like Tiakina Whangārei. Go to: tiakinawhangarei.co.nz to find out more and get involved.
- Find further information on effective pest control, visit our Pest Control Hub
Check before you chop
Bats move to new locations regularly so are not always present and can cycle through their preferred roosts. Protecting standing dead trees and old trees helps by maintaining natural habitat. If you live in an area that is adjacent to one of these known populations, please ask for advice before removing large old trees, including pines, by contacting our biodiversity team at: [email protected] or the Department of Conservation: www.doc.govt.nz
If you see a bat
Complete the encounter form below or call us on freephone: 0800 002 004.