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Studies on the Two New Zealand Bats

Flight, Crawling and Roosting

Flight, Crawling and Roosting

The flight of both species is erratic. Colenso (1890) describes the short zig-zag turns and the irregular rising and falling of feeding animals. Cheeseman (1894) describes the flight of Chalinolobus as quick, soft, and noiseless. It is unaffected by full daylight. When resting between flights this bat hangs upside-down with the wings furled.

Frequent changes of direction are also characteristic of Mystacina but Stead (1937) claims that the flight of this species is not so rapid or twisty as that of Chalinolobus. Mystacina may pursue insects in the vicinity of lights, flying at times quite close to the ground, and a number of specimens have been captured in forest when stunned after hitting against torches or lanterns, or after flying into lighted tents or huts. In captivity this species may rest between flights with the wings partially extended. When roosting it suspends itself upside down, using the recurved claws of both feet. The head extends straight downwards. The thigh is directed outwards from the body, at right angles to it, and the shank extends posteriorly and slightly medially. The foot is turned only slightly outwards from the line of the shank.

A number of structural peculiarities in Mystacina have been interpreted as adaptations suitable for terrestrialism (Dobson, 1876). Some information relating to terrestrial locomotor behaviour in this bat is available. Stead (1937) refers to seven specimens of Mystacina taken on Solomon Island. "They were placed in a box with a wire-netting front, and were most active in their efforts to escape, running head first with a curious stiff action and quite fast, using their folded wings as forelegs, the wrist joints coming in contact with the ground. They climbed the wire-netting or the smooth wooden sides tail first and with remarkable agility."

Mr H. E. Grubner (Whakatane) who kept a single bat of this species for two weeks during October, 1958, described the bat as particularly agile and able to run on top of or beneath a branch. He reports the ability of this bat to. take flight from a level surface.