Bats have long been associated with dark superstitions, and their reputation has not been helped by the continuing popularity of feature films about vampires and Count Bracula.
CU Researcher Les Hall with ultrasound detector to obtain sound of bat squeaking (2 SHOTS)
CU Grey Bent-wing bat hanging from perch
CU Eastern Horseshoe bat wriggling on perch
SV Several Eastern Horseshoe bats shrieking
SCU Eastern Horseshoe bat upside down
CU Bat held in Hall's hands PULL BACK OUT TO SV
CU Bat in Hall's hands it bites his finger
CU & SVs EXTERIOR Fruit bats in tree PULL OUT TO LV OF bat colony in tree (2 SHOTS)
SCU Fruit bats on tree branches (2 SHOTS)
GV Flying foxes takin off from tree ZOOM INTO SV
CU Red flying fox
SCU Bats flying off tree as snake slithers along rock and catches bat in flight
CU Snake digesting captured bat
SCU Flurry of wings as bats fly away.
LV Mass of bats in flight against sky
WILSON: "To pick up the ultra-sonic sounds which guide bats in the their flight, Les Hall uses a bat detector to bring the high pitched squeak down to the level of the human ear. Here in a cave outside Brisbane he records the signals of the Grey Bent-winged bat."
HALL: "When I switch the ultra-sound detector on we can hear all the noises which are being made by his mouth which we normally cannot hear. It is well above our hearing range, up around sixty to seventy kilohertz, and we can her only up to around twenty kilohertz.
This is an Eastern Horse-shoe bat. It is a bright orange face. Normally they are just a pale grey colour. You can see his very large ears and they wriggle around. He is using them to pick up the bounce from his ultra-sonic cries that have been coming out of his nose. This is a little bit unusual as most other bats make their ultra-sonic sounds which some from their mouth.
When you consider that most bats with a skull size not much larger than you small fingernail can fly around at night dodging trees, telegraph wires, can find things like mosquitoes and gnats, feed on these, can go back, find their caves or hollows in trees: i think this points to bats as being a very highly developed animal. The actual measuring of intelligence may be quite hard with a bat."
WILSON: "This colony of fruit bats or flying foxes about sixty thousand strong roost in the mangroves next to the Ingerphilly Golf Course. They hunt at night and stay home by day, hanging upside down from a chosen branch by their thumbs. They spend much of their time in squabbles over territory, in careful grooming, or if they are male, in displaying themselves to the girl next door. Rarely do they sleep.
Flying foxes, bigger than most bats, are also most vocal. They have more than a dozen calls, all within the range of the human ear.
Earlier this year they were joined by a more numerous and nomadic species the Red Flying Fox.
Safety in numbers if their principal motto. This and their night-time habits plus quick reflexes give them protection against their natural enemies, foxes, hawks, owls and snakes. Although sometimes their reflexes are not quick enough.
Foxes have been known to lurk at the entrance to caves and grab up to sixty small bats in one night. Even goannas have been spotted digging them out of a treehole. But generally the colonies are so large their total losses are small."
REPORTER: PHILIP WILSON
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Bats have long been associated with dark superstitions, and their reputation has not been helped by the continuing popularity of feature films about vampires and Count Bracula. But recent research into the bat has shown the species to be a highly developed mammal, both sensitive and intelligent. In Australia, much research has been done by author Mr. Les Hall. This report from the A.B.C.'s Philip Wilson.