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  1. 120 Photo by Bob Bullen
  2. 120 Photo by Terry Reardon

White-striped Bat

Austronomous australis (formerly Tadarida australis)

Appearance

  • Colour: It has dark brown to black fur with a bright white-stripe at the junction of the body and wings. Some individuals also have an area of white-fur on the chest.
  • Size: The White-striped Bat (Tadarida australis) is one of the largest insectivorous (microbats) in Australia (around 40g) adult weight. 
  • The White-striped Bat is in the ‘freetail’ family (Molossidae) which have a strong, stiff tail projecting beyond the tail membrane. 

Behaviour

  • Call: unlike other microbats part of the White-striped Bats echolocation call is audible. Most people with reasonable high frequency hearing can identify its distinctive metallic ‘ting ting’ once they’ve been tuned in.
  • Diet: insects.
  • Movement: it is a fast flyer and tracks the open space above the tree canopy. Its speed gives it a wide foraging range and as a result it is one of the few bats routinely encountered over urban areas. 

What to Observe

  • Absent (if you cannot hear it)

  • Present (if you can hear the ting ting call)

  • The number of calls in a 10 minute period in "How Many"

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

The large flight muscles in this species generate significant heat and impose a temperature limit on activity and foraging time. During summer White-striped Bats are restricted to areas where the mean monthly minimum (night-time) temperature does not exceed 20oC. These conditions exist over most of the south-west of Western Australia but this situation is anticipated to change quite rapidly as the result of human-induced climate change. As nocturnal temperatures rise the foraging period available for these bats will be reduced. The initial response may be the cessation of breeding activity. The next will be a contraction in summer range towards the south coast of the State.

The White-striped Bat is easy to detect and its behaviour, distribution, migratory timing and population size are all potential indicators of climate change. Can the White-striped Bat adapt and if so how and where? These are questions you can help us answer.

When To Look

  • Best time to listen is around 90 minutes after dark, later on really warm nights.
  • You only need to record whether the bat is present or absent but counts of the number of calls (over 10 minutes) may be a useful index of activity levels and can be recorded in the Notes.
  • Remember that ‘null’ results are just as important to record as positive contacts (and that things will change seasonally).

Where To Look

  • Bullen & McKenzie (2005) found that the White-striped Bat was a partial migrant
  • Cawthen (2013) suggests that the White-striped Bat occasionally visits Tasmania.
  • During the summer months (the reproductive period) all records were from south of 29oS latitude.
  • During the winter months a proportion of the population moved northward into the arid zone as far north as the Great Sandy Desert and Broome.
  • Choose a quiet area with an open sky - grassy paddocks, near dams or under street lights may be good spots although this bat can be heard almost anywhere if present.

White striped bat compiled distribution map - IUCN red list

White striped bat compiled distribution map - IUCN red list

Where To Look

Maps of Habitat Suitability

Austronomous_australis-white_striped_bat

Current probability
of occurrence
2070 probability
of occurrence (RCP 8.5)
Species range change from
current to 2070 probability

Above, the left and middle maps show the modelled habitat suitability for the the species under current and potential future climate conditions. The colours indicate the predicted habitat suitability from low (white) to high (dark red).

The future habitat suitability is modelled for the year 2070 under a climate change scenario that represents 'business as usual' (RCP 8.5). The map on the right shows how the range of the species might change between now and 2070, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, green areas where the species range might expand, and blue areas where the habitat is predicted to be suitable for the species now and in the future.

The models for this species were run in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory. Please note that while models can be very informative, they are only a representation of the real world and thus should always be viewed with caution. You can read more about the science behind these models here.

Sightings

References

Bullen,R.N. & N. McKenzie (2005). Seasonal range variation of Tadarida australis (Chiroptera : Mollossidae) in Western Australia: the impact of enthalpy. Australian Journal of Zoology 53, 145-156.

Cawthen, L. (2013). 'White-striped freetail bat in Tasmania - resident, vagrant or climate change migrant'Australian Mammology.

Churchill, S. (2008). Australian Bats (2nd Edition). Jacana Books. Allen & Unwin. Crow’s Nest, new South Wales.

 

  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    Some crickets and cicadas produce sounds at similar frequencies. However these calls are static not moving across the sky at speed.

  1. Did You Know?

    These bats are also called ‘mastiff’ bats because their wrinkled facial features resemble those of a mastiff dog.

  1. Listen to the Call