Pekapeka, classified as nationally critical under the New Zealand Threat Classification System, are New Zealand’s only native land mammals. Historical records and surveys since 1990 show that long-tailed bats are now rare or absent at many North and South Islands sites where they were formerly common.
There are two species, the long-tailed bat Chalinolobus and the lesser short-tailed bat Mystacina. Pekapeka are highly mobile, with flights of 10 to 25 km common. An individual can fly over 50 km at night and cruise to a favourite feeding site at over 60 km per hour. Emerging at dusk, pekapeka navigate and catch insects by bouncing high-frequency sounds off their surroundings.
Long-tailed bats stick to a diet of flying insects – moths, midges, mosquitoes and beetles, using a membrane along their tails to scoop up insects on the wing. Because they feed over such a wide area they need about 150 km2 of forest to sustain a colony. Both species depend for shelter on the oldest and largest trees in cool temperate rainforests, forming colonies in well-insulated tree-cavities.
Decline is due to clearance and logging of lowland forests, cutting of old-age trees for fire wood, predation by introduced mammals and exclusion of bats from their roosts by introduced mammals, birds and wasps.