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New Zealand Short-Tailed Bats: Mystacinidae

New Zealand Short-tailed Bats And People

People have caused a population decline in the New Zealand short-tailed bats, primarily through introducing predators, animals that hunt the bats for food, and destroying the bats' natural habitat. In stories the Maori (MAH-oo-ree), the original settlers of New Zealand, associate bats with a mythical, night-flying bird that foreshadows death or disaster.

The lesser short-tailed bats play an important role in the continued life of plants in New Zealand. As they feed on nectar and other plant material, they move from plant to plant and spread pollen, the fine grains that contain the male reproductive cells of seed plants. They are the only pollinators of the woodrose, an endangered and unique flower. These bats also are predators on insects that people may consider pests.


Before humans arrived on New Zealand there were no predators of bats and they were free to roam on the ground. When the Maori, the first settlers of New Zealand, arrived they brought Polynesian rats with them. Polynesian rats were predators of New Zealand bats and they quickly spread. By the early 1800s, when European settlers arrived in New Zealand, the greater short-tailed bat had been devastated. It was extinct over 98 percent of its habitat and only survived on two small rat-free islands. The lesser short-tailed bat was not affected as badly.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsNew Zealand Short-Tailed Bats: Mystacinidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, New Zealand Short-tailed Bats And People - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, CONSERVATION STATUS