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Mystacinidae, commonly known as short-tailed bats, are a family of small insectivorous mammals found only in New Zealand. They belong to the order Chiroptera and are the only bat species endemic to this country.

The name ‘short-tailed’ refers to their tail which is less than half the length of their body.

Mystacinids have unique adaptations that enable them to fly and hunt prey effectively. These include elongated fingers with webbing between them that form wings, echolocation abilities, and specialized teeth for catching insects.

In addition to being important members of the ecosystem due to their role in controlling insect populations, they also play an essential cultural significance for Maori people who consider them taonga (treasures).

Despite this value, many mystacinid species are threatened or endangered due to habitat loss and predation by introduced mammalian predators such as rats and stoats.

“Morcego-de-cauda-curta (Carollia perspicillata) fotografado em Linhares, Espírito Santo – Sudeste do Brasil. Bioma Mata Atlântica. Registro feito em 2012. ENGLISH: Seba’s short-tailed bat photographed in Linhares, Espírito Santo – Southeast of Brazil. Atlantic Forest Biome. Picture made in 2012.”


Genus Mystacina

Unique Adaptations For Flight And Hunting

Mystacinidae, commonly known as the New Zealand short-tailed bat, is a unique family of bats that exhibits remarkable adaptations for flight and hunting. These bats are found only in New Zealand, inhabiting both islands with different species occupying different parts of their range.

One of the distinctive adaptations of mystacinidae is their flight mechanics. Unlike most other bats, which use echolocation to navigate through darkness, these bats rely heavily on vision during flight. Their wingspan ranges from 25-30 cm, making them one of the smallest species within the order Chiroptera. They have broad wings with blunt tips that allow them to maneuver easily through dense vegetation while foraging or chasing prey. Furthermore, they possess powerful hind legs that enable them to take off from the ground rather than launching themselves into mid-air like other flying mammals.

Prey detection is another vital adaptation observed in mystacinidae. These bats are carnivorous and mainly feed on insects such as moths and beetles. However, due to their reliance on vision over echolocation when it comes to navigation, their hearing is not highly developed compared to other bat families. Instead, they use specialized hair-like sensors located around their nostrils called noseleafs to detect changes in airflow caused by insect movement. This allows them to accurately pinpoint their prey’s location before striking with amazing accuracy using sharp teeth capable of crushing tough exoskeletons.

The combination of visual acuity and acute sensory perception makes mystacinidae an interesting study subject for researchers interested in exploring diverse modes of predator-prey interactions among vertebrates living in complex environments without much light availability like those found in forests at night-time where these creatures reside.

Endemic To New Zealand

Endemic to New Zealand, the Mystacinidae family comprises only two species- the lesser short-tailed bat and the greater short-tailed bat. These bats are unique in their morphology as they have a tail that is almost non-existent, while their wingspan can reach up to 40 cm.

The lesser short-tailed bat can be found on both North and South islands of New Zealand, while its larger cousin, the greater short-tailed bat, is mainly restricted to forests in South Island.

Despite being endemic to New Zealand, these species are under threat due to habitat loss and predation by introduced mammalian predators such as rats and stoats. Conserving these bats has become increasingly important given their critical role in pollination and seed dispersal within forest ecosystems.

A number of conservation strategies have been implemented for mystacinidae including predator control programs aimed at reducing predation pressure on populations. Additionally, captive breeding programmes have been established for some species to increase genetic diversity and provide a backup population should wild populations decline further. Such initiatives highlight the importance of conserving this unique family of bats which play an essential ecological role in maintaining healthy forest ecosystems across New Zealand’s landscapes.

With continued efforts towards preserving habitats and implementing effective management practices, there remains hope that these fascinating creatures will continue to thrive into the future.

Genetic diversity plays a crucial role in ensuring adaptation potential against environmental changes like climate change or disease outbreaks; therefore it is imperative that we prioritize conservation measures designed not only for protecting existing populations but also promoting gene flow between them wherever possible.

We must remain vigilant and proactive in our approach towards safeguarding mystacinidae from extinction so that future generations may enjoy their presence in one of nature’s most precious environments – New Zealand’s forests.

Short-Tailed Bats: A Vital Ecosystem Member

Short-tailed bats, also known as mystacinids, are a vital member of many ecosystems in New Zealand. These small insectivorous mammals play an important role in controlling pest populations and pollination. Due to their nocturnal behavior patterns, they have been observed feeding on insects that other animals do not prey upon, such as moths and beetles.

This makes them particularly effective at controlling the population of these insects which can cause significant damage to crops. The ecological impact of short-tailed bats extends beyond just pest control. They are also important pollinators for native flora species.

The nectar from some plants has evolved specifically to be accessed by this bat’s long tongue and pointed snout, making it an essential part of the plant’s reproductive process. Without the presence of short-tailed bats, there would likely be a decline in these plant species and potentially even ecosystem collapse over time. Therefore, preserving their habitat is crucial for maintaining biodiversity and promoting sustainable development practices in New Zealand.

Threats To Mystacinid Species

One of the major threats to mystacinid species is their loss of habitat. The destruction and fragmentation of forests, which are critical habitats for these bats, have led to a decline in their population size.

According to recent studies, more than 50% of New Zealand’s native forest cover has been eliminated since human settlement began in the country. This alarming statistic shows the extent of deforestation that has occurred over the years and highlights how crucial it is to conserve remaining forests.

In addition to habitat loss, invasive species pose another significant threat to mystacinids. These non-native predators compete with them for food and shelter, further reducing their chances of survival.

Four key invasive species that threaten mystacinid populations are:

1) Australian magpies – known to attack adult bats while they roost during the day
2) Ship rats – prey on both juveniles and adults
3) Stoats – pose a severe threat due to their ability to climb trees and predate on roosting bats
4) Feral cats – hunt both juvenile and adult bats at night

It is essential that we address these threats through conservation measures such as reforestation efforts, control of invasive species, and protection of remaining habitats. Failure to do so may result in irreversible losses not only among mystacinidae but also other endemic wildlife species found only in New Zealand’s unique ecosystems.

Importance To Maori Culture

Threats to mystacinid species have become increasingly evident in past decades due to human-induced habitat loss, predation by invasive mammalian predators, and disease. These factors have led to a decline in population numbers of different species within the family Mystacinidae. The conservation of these unique creatures is paramount as they play an essential role in maintaining ecosystem balance.

Additionally, there is cultural significance attached to these animals. Mystacinidae holds great importance for Maori culture who recognize them as taonga (treasure) and are considered kaitiaki (guardians). Their traditional knowledge regarding mystacinids has been passed down from generation to generation through oral histories that describe how their ancestors utilized the bats’ meat and hides during times of scarcity.

Today, many Maori people continue to hold high regard for these precious creatures and work towards conserving them alongside government organizations and other stakeholders. By recognizing the cultural significance of mystacinids, it becomes easier to integrate community involvement into conservation efforts aimed at protecting this unique group of mammals from extinction.

Conservation Efforts To Protect Mystacinids

The mystacinidae family is facing a significant threat of extinction due to various factors such as habitat loss, predation by invasive species and climate change. These unique creatures are essential for maintaining the ecological balance in their respective habitats. It is crucial that we take immediate action to conserve these endangered animals before it’s too late.

Collaborative efforts between governments, conservation organizations, and local communities have been initiated to protect and restore the remaining populations of mystacinids. The implementation of government policies aimed at conserving wildlife has played a vital role in protecting this species from further decline. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure the survival of these fascinating creatures. We must continue our efforts towards researching better ways to monitor and conserve mystacinids through collaborative actions among all stakeholders involved in safeguarding these precious animals.

  • Collaborating with local communities can help create awareness about the importance of conserving mystacinids.
  • Implementing effective policy measures can provide legal protection for mystacinids against human activities that pose threats.
  • Continued research on population dynamics, genetics, and ecology will enable us to develop efficient strategies for long-term conservation goals.

It is imperative that we do everything within our power to preserve this unique family because they play an integral part in shaping our natural world, making it more diverse and resilient. By putting into practice sustainable solutions developed through collaborative effort, we can prevent the irreversible loss of yet another important animal group from our planet’s ecosystem.


Mystacinidae, commonly known as short-tailed bats, are a unique and fascinating species endemic to New Zealand. These nocturnal creatures possess several adaptations that allow them to fly through dense forests and hunt for insects with precision.

Despite being small in size, these bats play an important role in the ecosystem by pollinating native plants and controlling insect populations.

Unfortunately, habitat destruction and predation from introduced mammals have led to a decline in mystacinid populations.

It is estimated that there are only around 30,000 individuals left across all three species of mystacinids. However, conservation efforts such as predator control programs and habitat restoration projects have been implemented to protect these endangered animals.

As experts in the field of bat research, it is our responsibility to continue studying these amazing creatures and advocating for their protection.

By educating others about the importance of preserving mystacinids, we can work towards ensuring their survival for generations to come.