Details of sighting in Sundowner Randburg below pictures
28 March 2007. Letter from Mimi - Sundowner, Randburg
I'm happy to announce that I have noticed a beautiful bat (nick-named 'Pretty Boy') roosting against the wall above our bat box under the eaves of our thatch roof for about 4 weeks now.
My guess is that he may be a Mauritian tomb bat because he looks similar to the guys we saw at Ngwenya. He is a biggish and very attractive fellow with prominent eyes and a fairly long 'pinkish' snout. His back is greyish while his undersurface is white. He doesn't mind me looking at him but when he moves he does this in a sideways fashion. Sometimes during the day I hear him making 2 - 3 squeaks. I have heard similar squeaks on the opposite side of the house but haven't been able to observe any other bats of his kind. We have flood lights in our garden and this attracts a feast of moths. Unfortunately I haven't been lucky enough to see him take off in the evenings or returning at sunrise.
29 March 2007 Response from Julio Balona
You are lucky to have this rather handsome fellow visit you. He is indeed a Mauritian tomb bat and I could tell that just from your description of it, before looking at your pics.
A beautiful and interesting species of bat they are. Their habit of roosting almost in the open is unusual. In the wild they would typically roost on the trunk of a tree and would not easily be seen due to their camouflage and habit of creeping around to the opposite side of the trunk when noticed. They have been recorded in Gauteng but are not common here so your finding is useful for us to know.
Of special interest is their movements. They seem to show up in an area, stay for a while and then disappear. Where they go to we do not know. I've recently been thinking that this issue might be a good project for the bat group to delve into a bit. Perhaps you can help us with information that may contribute towards deciphering this puzzle by keeping an eye on the bat and taking note of any further interesting behaviour. In particular I would be keen to know when it leaves (I'm expecting it to leave, but if it is still sticking around for months, that too would be interesting and useful to know).
As far as I know, they usually occur in twos or threes, so if you locate any other Pretty Boys or Girls please let us know.
29 March 2007. Response from Nigel Fernsby
Many thanks for these good photos of the Mauritian Tomb Bat at your house. Over the last 5 or so years we have had the occasional report of this species in Johannesburg and East Rand. But from Rautenbach's Mammals of the Transvaal, it appears that this species did not occur in Johannesburg prior to 1983 - a similar situation as with the Yellow House Bat. They normally occur in bushveld as their natural roosting points are the bare trunks of large trees. But they have broadly adapted to using walls of houses - mainly face brick and terracotta/brown painted walls. So it is a good record for this Bat. There are probably one or two others nearby - perhaps on a tree - where they can be difficult to observe as they track sideways to avoid being observed.