By Chris Burton on 31st July 2023

Long tailed bats have been detected for the second time in Piha!

It’s been a wet winter so far to say the least, but during a recent fine spell, Dudley Bell from Pest Free Piha and Chris Burton from Community Waitakere worked with landowners to deploy several specialised ultrasonic bat recorders along bush edges at the top of Piha Hill. Despite the cold conditions, Pekapeka were recorded foraging and feeding along a stand of native forest on the edge of a paddock on two separate nights. The Pekapeka recordings occurred not far from an area where a lone bat was recorded in May last year.

‘The fact that bats have been recorded again in Piha is great news’ “It really shows how important all our community efforts are to protect the local environment” says Bell.

The recorders are programmed to record the ultrasonic echolocation calls from the critically endangered Pekapeka from dusk till dawn. The bats use echolocation to navigate, feed and socialise at night.

Burton says ‘Pekapeka roost in cracks and holes typically in older trees and there may well be trees nearby where these Pekapeka are roosting. These taonga are classified as ‘Nationally critical’ and introduced pests like rats, possums, wasps and cats can all have an impact on Pekapeka. We need to minimise pest numbers for this species to really flourish’.

‘We will be taking the ultrasonic recorders to a number of new areas to get a better understanding of how Pekapeka are using the landscape. The more we know about the Pekapeka, the greater our chances are to protect them from extinction’ says Burton.

Pekapeka are typically less active over the winter months, with their bodies entering a state, like hibernation, called ‘torpor’. But unlike hibernation, they will still leave their roosts to feed when the conditions allow. Pekapeka weigh around 8-10g, fly at 50kph, are nocturnal and navigate and feed using echolocation.

The Long-tailed bat is one of 2 endemic bat species and are our only native land mammals. The second being the Lesser short-tailed bat which is only found in the Auckland region on Hauturu, Little Barrier Island.

Top tips to protect Pekapeka

  • Keep your cat inside at night
  • Protect large trees both native and exotic
  • Reduce predator numbers
  • Borrow a hand-held bat detector and find bats at your place. Email [email protected] to find out more about borrowing bat detectors.
  • Download this informative Pekapeka poster – Click here
  • Tell everyone about Pekapeka!