Cats eating New Zealand's critically endangered bats: research
Published: Aug 10, 2022 09:21 PM
New Zealand's long-tailed bat is seen as a tasty snack by cats. New research confirms what has long been suspected: Feral and domestic cats are repeatedly hunting and eating the country's native bats.

Researchers report an observation where seven of these critically endangered bats, or pekapeka-tou-roa in Maori, were killed or injured by cats in a rural landscape over two years.

According to a research paper published in the New Zealand Journal of Zoology on Wednesday, there is little data available about confirmed attacks in New Zealand, but in the UK, cats are thought to kill as many as 250,000 bats annually, so the researchers suggest the full impact in New Zealand is "substantial."

Department of Conservation science advisor Kerry Borkin examined the gut contents of a feral cat trapped in the North Island's Pureora Forest Park and found the remains of a lesser short-tailed bat. She also recorded the reoccurring hunting of long-tailed bats by a pet cat owned by a nearby household living on a rural property, who discovered pekapeka remains around their home.

Although not all cat attacks on pekapeka will result in death, they will reduce the overall likelihood of survival for individual bats and populations, Borkin said, adding native bats can be found in towns, cities, farms, and forests - if cats are there too, then bats are at risk of being killed.