Bats eat birds

Subject: Bats eat birds
From: Rohan Clarke <>
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 10:56:16 +1000
Paul, you are quite right. Ghost bats do eat birds.....

Avian prey of the Australian Ghost Bat Macroderma gigas (Microchiroptera:
Megadermatidae): Prey characteristics and damage from predation.
Boles-Walter-E {a} Australian-Zoologist. June, 1999; 31 (1): 82-91..

Abstract: The Ghost Bat Macroderma gigas is a large (mean mass 150 g)
predatory bat of sub-tropical and tropical Australia. It carries its
vertebrate prey to roost caves to be eaten and where remains are dropped and
accumulate. Whereas the attack and feeding methods of M. gigas on mammals
has been well documented, there is little comparable information relating to
avian prey. Using published lists of avian prey and skeletal material
collected from a modern Macroderma roost, this study examined the range of
bird species eaten by this bat. From the characteristics of these birds,
biases towards particular behaviour patterns were identified. Prey masses
were used to determine a preferred size range for avian prey. From this
information, and assessments of the damage to the bones,inferences were made
regarding the capture and processing methods employed by M. gigas for birds.
More than 50 species, from a broad taxonomic range, have been recorded as
avian prey of the Ghost Bat. These are all essentially diurnal with the
obvious exception of the Australian Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles cristatus.
Species that aggregate when roosting are over-represented in the diet of the
Ghost Bat. Ground-frequenting species comprise about a quarter of the prey
records. Birds may be captured at most levels of the strata, from the ground
to the canopy, and in flight. Ghost Bats feed on a wide size range of avian
prey, and although they may take animals up to about two-thirds their own
mass, they have a preference for smaller birds, with almost 70% of the
species having amass less than 35 g. The most severe damage to a bird's
post-cranial skeleton is to the ventral side of the sternum, whereas distal
appendicular elements exhibit no damage from Ghost Bat predation. The type
of damage to the bones and the size of the prey is
consistent with the assumption that megadermatid bats were accumulators of
many avian remains now represented in Miocene andmPliocene fossil deposits
at Riversleigh, Queensland.


Rohan Clarke
PhD Candidate
'Conservation Biology of the Black-eared Miner'
Department of Zoology
La Trobe University
Bundoora Vic. 3083
Tel 03 9479 1672
Fax 03 94791551
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