| || |
This is it: the only furry land animal endemic to Hawaii: 'ope'ape'a, the Hawaiian Hoary Bat, Lasiurus cinereus semotus. Eons before introduced goats, pigs, rabbits, and cattle came into the picture, these bats were here. These mammals are small, approximately 10 to 13 inches in wingspan, and weighing under an ounce. They get their common name from their brownish-grey fur that looks frosted, the fringes dipped in a hoary white. Rather than hang out with other bats in a cave somewhere, 'ope'ape'a usually prefer to go it alone, sleeping the day away hanging upside down in a tree, though Moms and pups will roost together. They seem to be most active shortly after sunset, which is probably a good time to try and see them, as they cruise around using echolocation to search out tasty moths, beetles, termites, and other insects.
Frank Bonaccorso, a bat researcher with the USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, has found that the bats on the Big island have favorite trees used for resting or roosting, and while there remains much that is not known about this bat, it does seem that they migrate to higher elevations in the cooler months of the year, then head down to lower elevations in the spring and summer. Just how many bats there are is difficult to determine, but the populations on the Big Island seem significant, with bat sightings occurring island-wide, and in a variety of habitats. The bats occur on all the MHI, with Maui and Kaua'i also appearing to have good populations. Oahu's population does not seems as robust, perhaps due to greater development, and therefore habitat loss. The 'Ope'ape'a adult females give birth to twins in early summer; the pups will remain with her for a couple of months.
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.