New Zealand greater short-tailed bat

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New Zealand greater short-tailed bat
Mystacina robusta specimen from Auckland Museum.jpg
Specimen held at Auckland Museum

Critically endangered, possibly extinct (IUCN 3.1)[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Chiroptera
Family: Mystacinidae
Dobson, 1875
Genus: Mystacina
Gray in Dieffenbach, 1843
Species: M. robusta
Binomial name
Mystacina robusta
(Dwyer, 1962)

The New Zealand greater short-tailed bat (Mystacina robusta) was one of two species of New Zealand short-tailed bats, a family (Mystacinidae) unique to New Zealand. There have been no confirmed sights of this animal since 1967. It lived on the North and South Islands in prehistoric times and historically lived on small islands near Stewart Island/Rakiura. They were also known to live in caves in the Solomon Islands. Short-tailed bats were as adept at scrambling along the ground as they were at flying. Their wings folded into pouches on the sides of their bodies, so the bats could race through burrows or scrub because they use the echolocation to help forage to eat. Adult bats reached a length of 9 cm. The only known photograph shows the bat covered in dark blue fur.

The greater short-tailed bat was widespread throughout New Zealand before the Māori arrived. In historic times, it used seabird burrows as roosts. It flew slowly, never rising more than two or three metres above the ground. It took nectar from flowering plants and was probably partly carnivorous, taking meat and fat off muttonbirds and eating nestling birds. Unlike most bats, they were terrestrial in nature, spending much of their time on the ground.[2]

Near extinction[edit]

These bats are one of the last of its species known to the New Zealand country. One of the biggest threats to this species are rats, which were introduced to New Zealand via the movement of Europeans to New Zealand some 200 years ago. They were on Big South cape Island which was predator free until 1963 when rats accidentally came to the island.[3]

Natural history[edit]

The breeding interactions of this animal is very limited and believed to have been once a year and possibly in the months of February to April with a 1 to 1 offspring. They tend to not venture very far from the roosting site and do not leave until 1–2 hours after sunset.[4]

Conservation efforts[edit]

The DOC is doing work with a species related to the greater short-tailed bats, which is the New Zealand lesser short-tailed bat. The DOC is using black boxes to pick up some echolocation of this animals to see where they are flying. In this study, DOC is working in Eglinton valley[5] to see the species trend of this animal. The DOC has thought that the greater short-tailed bat might be in the area as well.[6]


Further reading[edit]

  • A Gap in Nature by Tim Flannery and Peter Schouten (2001), published by William Heinemann

External links[edit]