Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Jacques Hausser from Switzerland sent photos of animals we don’t often see: bats! His captions are indented:

Bats are seldom featured on Reader’s Wildlife Photos: we have few opportunities to meet them at close view and few people would describe them as “cute”. But it is the season for promoting public interest through “bat nights”, and a PhD student of my department, Laura Clement, who studies blood parasites of bats, offered a demonstration last night of bat capture with mist nets. It was a bit too windy and we caught (and of course released) only two species (there are 22 species in the area).

Myotis myotis, the greater mouse-eared bat (Vespertillonidae). This species, curiously, hunts soil-dwelling and not or rarely flying prey, mostly carabids detected by the noise the produce wandering across dry leaves and grasses. It is a large species for European standards, weighting about 30 g, with a 36-45 cm wingspan. Here Laura is freeing one from the mist net.

A portrait of Myotis myotis, smiling. You can notice the free thumb of the right wing just above the ear.

The Whiskered Bat, Myotis mystacinus, is in the same genus but tiny: about 5 grams with a wingspan about 20 cm. It hunts mostly dipterans like Tipulidae (Crane flies).

Same species. Look at these teeth !

A studious group of participants in the pitch-dark night. Worthwhile to attend if something like that is organised near your place !

Now a non-bat. Reader John Hayman from Melbourne sent this adorable marsupial:

‘You rescued me– now put me down!’ Baby ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrines), weight 80 g, found on the ground alone during the day in an inner Melbourne suburb, away from habitat. Now with a carer (Animal Rescue).

11 Comments

  1. nicky
    Posted August 28, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I Love bats and these are lovely photos. However, sadly bats are often infected with rabies, careful handling is advised Jacques!

    • Jacques Hausser
      Posted August 28, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      Laura is vaccinated – and I was too when still working with small mammals. But after 9 years of retirment, I’m afraid the vaccine is no more efficient…

      • nicky
        Posted August 28, 2017 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        Vaccination, great!

  2. busterggi
    Posted August 28, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately my area has been hit hard by white-nose disease and I haven’t seen any bats in years. Miss watching them.

  3. Diane G.
    Posted August 28, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Cool bat photos!

    Forty-five years ago we mist-netted bats in Costa Rica during an OTS course–getting them out of the net is not a chore for the faint-hearted. 🙂 Anyway, I can still identify with your pics of the adventure–definitely a thrill!

  4. Diane G.
    Posted August 28, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    John–what an sweet baby. Only 80g! (~2.08 oz. for my fellow USians.) I hope his/her mother and other siblings, if any, are OK, but it doesn’t sound promising… 😦 Kudos for the rescue.

  5. rickflick
    Posted August 28, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    About 5 years ago we had a sky full of bats behind the house every summer night(New York). Then nothing. They just disappeared. Just the other night I spotted a few, so I’m hopeful they are making a come-back.

    Along the local Rail-Trail you can see bat houses erected by the local enthusiasts. By their appearance they are being occupied.

    • Richard Bond
      Posted August 28, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Nearly twenty years ago (in Scotland) we had a colony of pipistrelle bats (not sure if they were Pipistrellus pipistrellus or Pipistrellus pygmaeus) that lived behind vertical tiling on the front wall of our house. On one fine summer evening I counted 24 emerging in about 20 minutes, and there were many evenings when we saw smaller groups. Occasionally I would rescue one that had been trapped inside our house: it would have either flown in through an open window and could not find its way out, or it had been brought in by one of our cats. Under UK law, it is illegal to handle them, but I think that, pragmatically, rescue was a better option than to leaving them trapped. Anyway, it gave me chances to see them up close, and to appreciate how beautiful they are. Sadly, a summer arrived when they were no longer there. I sometimes see individuals, but the colony simply vanished.

    • Posted August 28, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      The loss could be the result of the white-nose syndrome disease that has been clobbering them.

      • Richard Bond
        Posted August 29, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the suggestion, but I think that it is unlikely. Our bats disappeared around 2000, and the first identification of the disease was in the USA in 2007. There have been reports in the UK of a few single cases, but none of the mass mortalities that characterise the North American outbreak.

  6. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 28, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I love bats! I don’t get why people don’t like them. They’re cute!


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