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Temporal range: Miocene to Recent
New Zealand lesser short-tailed bat, Mystacina tuberculata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Chiroptera
Suborder: Microchiroptera
Superfamily: Noctilionoidea
Family: Mystacinidae
Dobson, 1875
Genus: Mystacina
Gray in Dieffenbach, 1843
Type species
Mystacina tuberculata
Gray, 1843

M. robusta
M. tuberculata

Mystacinidae is a family of unusual bats, the New Zealand short-tailed bats. There is one living genus, Mystacina, with two recently extant species, one of which is believed to have become extinct in the 1960s. They are medium-sized bats, about 6 centimetres (2.4 in) in length, with grey, velvety fur.


The family also contains the extinct genus Icarops known from Miocene fossils found in Australia. The oldest fossils of the living genus date to the late Pleistocene of New Zealand.[1]


Mystacinids are the most "un-batlike" family of bats. 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. Another distinctive feature of the group is an additional projection on some of the claws, which may aid in digging or climbing. They are omnivorous, eating fruit and carrion in addition to ground-dwelling arthropods. They also eat pollen and nectar, which they are able to collect with their extensible tongues. They sometimes chew out burrows in rotting wood, but can also roost in rock crevices or the burrows of seabirds.[2]

They give birth once each summer, to a single young. They are able to hibernate during the winter.[3]

In 2010 the Department of Conservation discovered a feral cat that was responsible for killing over 100 short-tailed bats over a seven-day period in a forested area on the southern slope of Mount Ruapehu.[4]


  1. ^ Carter, G.G. & Riskin, D.K. (2006). "Mystacina tuberculata". Mammalian Species: Number 790: pp. 1–8. doi:10.1644/790.1. 
  2. ^ Macdonald, D., ed. (1984). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. p. 805. ISBN 0-87196-871-1. 
  3. ^ Fenton, M. Brock (2001). Bats. New York: Checkmark Books. pp. 129–130. ISBN 0-8160-4358-2. 
  4. ^ "Cat nabbed raiding the mothership". Department of Conservation. 22 April 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 

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