Ghost Bat

the spectacular life of a microbat

August

Today will be our last day roosting in this cave. After tonight's hunt, my mate and I won't return to our current cave, and we'll start life in one closer to the body of water about a mile away. We're moving to what some call a "nursery". It's a cave where all the mother bats and their babies roost. We form maternity colonies and help each other out with motherhood, giving advice and general support. The males have their own cave nearby.

The sun's setting now, so it's almost time to go out. Yesterday, the neighbouring bats caught more beetles than us, but a few days before, we captured a bird! It was such a wonderful treat: it had us set for days. Anyway, I guess we'll be competing with different bats from now on.

September 7, 2013 4:45 a.m.

We've just moved into our new cave! It's very nice, and I'll write more about it later, when I'm not so busy. I just thought to record the exact date and time of this milestone!


September

Well, we've settled into our new cave and have been here about three weeks now. The mothers are very nice and welcoming and It's much more secluded and hidden than the previous one. Not that we have anything to hide from. In the tropics of a northern Australia, we aren't really prey to any species, seeing that we're the largest flying animal in this ecosystem when we're out. But put us on the ground next to a cat or a fox, and we look almost microscopic (that's a dramatisation, clearly.) So, really, there isn't much to worry about here in terms of other animals hunting us. We fly at night and roost quite deep in caves during the day, making it difficult for anything to get to us.

Well, it's time now for me to get some sleep. The sun is about to rise and it's not a very nice sight.

October 9, 2013 12:05 a.m.

BAT BABIES. BABIES.


October

I think I am the happiest living thing to be found! A week ago, my baby bats were born. bats. I know our species usually has one or two pups, but i'm so happy to have lucked out with the latter. It's always better to spread your genes among multiple offspring, especially when they are as good as ours.

Ghost bats are definitely the top species of any bat, or any animal. Over the years -- many, many years -- we've evolved wings. We're mammals with wings, it's quite extraordinary. Without wings, we would have predators, and would have to constantly watch for them. That's tough to imagine. Also, we hibernate during colder months; our body temperatures drop to reduce energy loss. That's got to be the smartest thing an animal can do. Winter months are so difficult to survive in: abundance of food is low (all our beetles and reptiles are sleeping away, and fruit stops growing). And it gets pretty cold. I've never been awake during winter, but the temperature begins dropping as it approaches and I would not like to be around to see how far it drops. I'm sure it isn't that much, being in the tropics, but I don't want to take any chances. Another really smart adaptation bats have developed is echolocation! We have excellent hearing, and use it for just about everything: navigation, sensing prey, communicating with other bats.
Well, that's why bats are great. Clearly, my oxytocin level is high; I feel really close to my pups and am so happy about them!

November

Wow! Life is so different now. Being a mother takes quite some getting used to. The newborns are almost always near me. We roost together, with other mothers and their babies, while the male bats live in their own cave nearby. They each hunt and gather food for their families. We're a very tight-knit colony.

Sometimes, I have to go out and gather fruit or small insects for the pups and me. That means I have to leave them in the cave while I go out. trust everyone in the maternity colony, but it's still difficult to leave my babies.

It's only been a couple of weeks, but they're growing so quickly. Their eyes were completely closed and they were hairless little creatures when they were just born. Now their eyes are wide open, their hair is growing -- thinly -- and they must be getting bigger and bigger every second. they can't fly yet, but it's really a matter of only about a week.

December

The pups have started flying! They're quite good at it (obviously, it's their instinct!). We've been leaving the cave to practice flying and hunting and gathering. Soon, they'll be weaned and we'll hunt together, until they can go off by themselves. I'm a bit nervous for them to hunt by themselves. In a perfect world, we could hunt whatever we wanted without the annoyance of feral, jungle cats and, sometimes, foxes. We always have to think about if one might be close once we sense our prey. There have been many times when I get so excited for a frog I'm about to catch, but before I get to it, a cat jumps in and grabs it, running away quickly. In fact, there are days when the cats and foxes are too fast, and we're just not on top of our game, and we end up with little or no food that night. Those are the nights I wish life could be perfect and we could all roost in a cave together right near a body of water that's filled with frogs and lizards and birds and bugs crawling around it and on many plants surrounding it, weighed down by dense, ripe fruit. And we'd be the only mammals around for hundreds of miles, so nothing could get in our way. That's such a perfect picture, isn't it?

But we do what we can, trying as hard as possible to get to our prey before the anything else. And we make the most of the little bit of fruit or tiny insects we can get on days when we aren't as lucky.

I hope the pups don't find too much difficulty in hunting, when their time comes.

January

So, the babies have been weaned and are now flying close by my side as I hunt. They are watching very closely and paying much attention to everything I do, so they can replicate it. We catch beetles and other bugs together most of the time. They aren't really struggling with it, which makes me confident in them. But, they're still nervous about trying to catch bigger animals and going farther away from the cave, where jungal cats and foxes will compete with us.


Oh but they're developing so quickly! They're wings are so big now, and their hair is all grown in. They're really starting to look like adult bats, but more like miniature versions of us, of course.

Well, it's time for me to get to sleep, these pups are exhausting me!

February

How fast bats grow! The pups are hunting so well now. I don't have to keep a close eye -- well, ear -- on them anymore. They're almost completely independent. That means we'll soon be moving out of the nursery and into our old cave, or maybe a new one. Most likely, we'll just move into a new cave nearby; we still want to keep into touch with all the other families that are in different stages with their pups.
Anyway, it's time to go out to hunt. It's just rained, which means birds will be out for worms and that gives us a better chance to catch birds! Wish me luck!


March

Today was an awful day. Until today, the pups have been successful in their hunts, catching at least a little lizards, or quite a few beetles. But today one of them was beat to a frog by a very irritating cat. He was so upset he couldn't focus on hunting anything else and was down for the rest of the night. Of course, we shared our catches with him. It was such a sad sight to witness, especially for a mother.


April

Nothing very interesting has been happening. We're in our own cave again, still close to the nursery, but now we can live as a family. The pups are doing well. My mate and I are as well. The mothers I still keep in touch with are quickly going through their pregnancies or their pups life cycles. It brings back nice memories to hear about all their stories.
Well, I'm just reminiscing those exciting events . . .


May

Today, it rained all day and all night. It gets difficult to hunt in the rain. And those are the kinds of days that we spend most of just sitting inside the cave. It got me thinking about all the other animal species out in the tropics and Australia, in general. We really don't spend much time with them, except to hunt some and roll our eyes at others (cats and foxes!). But, I've heard of species that sometimes create relationships with other species where they help each other survive. that sounds quite nice, doesn't it? I'd like a fresh face to look at once in a while, one that I could recognise positively and help out, and they'd return the favour. But I only have that kind of relationship with other ghost bats, which I'm certainly not complaining about. I love belonging in a close community with my species. But I also wonder about expanding my horizons . . . .


May

Well, it's the last day of the month and the temperature has been dropping. It's apparent not only by the weather but also the lack of fruit and the dwindling of available insects. The birds have started to migrate and tomorrow we begin hibernation. I'm sure it won't too cold in the tropics but we do it mostly to conserve energy.

See you in two months!

August

Hello again! Our hibernation went well, I'm refreshed and ready to start life again. Speaking of starting life, the pups are fully grown and matured now and can have their own pups. Where has the time gone? It's been quite a year. So many exciting things have happened: moving to different caves, bat babies, new mother friends, deep thinking, and especially bat babies. It was definitely a life-changing year and having pups was a wonderful event. I can only wish the same experience for own pups and all the generations to come.