Bat guano is a type of organic matter that consists mainly of dead insects and other invertebrates, which are collected from the ground or water. The term “bat guano” refers to any kind of organic material containing insect remains, such as decaying animal carcasses, leaves and twigs, tree bark or even human excrement.
The most common way of using bat guano is to mix it into the soil in order to improve its fertility properties. However, bat guano can also be used as a foliar spray, when applied directly onto plants.
Bat guano is not only useful for improving plant growth but also for increasing their resistance against pests and diseases.
Bat guano is usually obtained through killing bats (or other animals) and then collecting the bodies and disposing them properly. The practice of harvesting bat corpses is called bat guano collection.
It is believed that bats have been living in the area where these bones were found since long time ago. They may have died due to some disease or they could die from natural causes like old age.
When humans started farming, they probably killed many bats and buried them in their fields so that no more would come back to haunt them later on. For those who are fans of the TV-show “Game of Thrones”, you may be interested in knowing that parts of the TV-show were actually filmed in this cave.
Bats are nocturnal creatures that feed on insects, which they catch using sonar. This is called echolocation (similar to how submarines use sonar to see what is around them under the water).
Bats can eat up to 1,000 insects in just one night. That’s a whole lot of bugs!
Bats are mammals that can be found all over the world. However, New Zealand doesn’t have any native land mammals (except the bat), so our bats are considered to be migratory species that travel across the Pacific Ocean from Asia or North America.
There are 17 species of bats in New Zealand and they can be found in most parts of the country. They can be either solitary or social animals, with some bats living in colonies of up to 1 million bats!
What lives here: The cave was home to an underground river that has since dried up. Bats, especially the long-tailed bat and the short-tailed bat live here.
These bats are insectivores and feed on the many insects that live in the cave. They also feed on guano (bat droppings). These bats hibernate during the winter.
What’s inside the cave?
The cave is like a maze. There are many different passageways that lead to different areas of the cave. Some of these lead to dead ends, others lead to open areas with walls too steep and smooth to climb, while some passageways lead to new passages and rooms.
These caves can be found all over New Zealand, although many have been closed off for safety reasons.
The cave is situated on private farmland and the main entrance is hidden under a man-made shelter to keep the wind and rain out. There are also four more entrances, which lead to different passageways inside the cave.
It’s a dark and stormy night; you’ve been driving for miles up a long, winding gravel road with high fences on either side. You’re not quite sure where you are, but it seems like you’re in the middle of nowhere.
You come to a large metal gate, which is swung open and blocked open with small logs. A hand-painted sign hangs from two poles on the gate that reads:
Here is an example of how the bones might be laid out:
The skeletal remains are probably of the long-tailed bat. These bats have a wing-span of around 40 centimetres and weigh about 30 grams.
They have long, pointy teeth that can be used to rip their prey and sharp claws that can be used to catch their prey. They usually hunt insects like moths and flies.
The skeletal remains are probably of the short-tailed bat. These bats are much smaller than the long-tailed bat and weigh about 10 grams.
They also have a wingspan of around 30 centimetres. They usually hunt flies, moths and other small insects.
There are many different types of bats, some live in forests, some live in deserts and some live in the arctic. Out of all the different types of bats, there are two that may be found in New Zealand:
What lives here?
Bats! Bats are mammals and they are only found in dark places like caves. They can also be found in forests. They live in groups and colonies called ‘colonies’. A colony can consist of just a mother and her babies or it can be much bigger.
You are at the bottom of a 100 metre high cliff face. There is a narrow crack running through the rock, you could maybe fit through there…if you were a bird.
You are at the base of a sheer rockface. You could try to climb to the top, or wander left or right along the base.
You are at the bottom of a calm, clear lake. You can make out large rocks from the surface of the water about 20 metres out from the bank you are standing on.
You are at the edge of a large expanse of water. The water is calm and you can see small ripples on the surface caused by fish swimming below.
You are at the edge of a forest. A path leads through the trees to a clearing beyond.
You are in a narrow cave, with a path leading off to a small opening in the rockface. Beyond this, there appears to be a larger opening…
The plateau is made up of large flat rocks that make up a slightly uneven surface. There are small bushes scattered around and low growing vegetation.
The plateau edges are made up of cliffs of varying heights, but nothing you can’t climb down.
You are on top of a large plateau. The ground is quite level and a little rocky.
There are small bushes and some low growing vegetation.
You are at the base of a rockface that stretches up, and up, and out of sight. It rises directly out of a calm, clear lake.
You can make out large rocks several metres below the surface.
The trees around you are tall conifers that soak up all the light that falls upon their branches. Under the thick carpet of needles on the ground, the ground is littered with small branches that make walking a little treacherous.
You are in the bottom half of a narrow canyon, with rocky walls rising on either side up above you. A little stream trickles along the rocky bottom, sometimes turning into tiny cascades over the larger rocks.
You are at the mouth of a cave, with two paths leading from it. One path leads into a desert, the other back into the canyon you were just in.
You are in the middle of a city street. The buildings around you are all toppled and ruined, with broken bottles and sharp pieces of metal sticking out at every angle.
The area is relatively clear of debris, but there are still a few signs that people do not roam here.
You are in the middle of a large, open cave. The stone floor is dry, and there is a slight chill in the air.
Outlines of large objects are scattered around the edges of the area, some of which are half buried.
You are in a dark cave, only illuminated by narrow slices of sunlight falling through cracks in the rock above you. It is cool down here and you can see your breath misting in front of you.
Sources & references used in this article:
Bat guano as new and attractive chitin and chitosan source by M Kaya, O Seyyar, T Baran, T Turkes – Frontiers in Zoology, 2014 – Springer
Group C betacoronavirus in bat guano fertilizer, Thailand by S Wacharapluesadee, C Sintunawa… – Emerging infectious …, 2013 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Effect of bat guano on the growth of Vigna radiata L by S Shetty, KS Sreepada, R Bhat – International Journal of Scientific and …, 2013 – Citeseer
Spatial and temporal expression of vegetation and atmospheric variability from stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of bat guano in the southern United States by CM Wurster, DA McFarlane, MI Bird – Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 2007 – Elsevier
Coffee farmers’ perception of bat guano as fertilizer in agroecosystems of Mexico by MG Torres-Jiménez, R Murrieta-Galindo… – Regions and …, 2020 – berghahnjournals.com
Guano exploitation in Madagascar by C Buliga – 2010 – digitalcollections.sit.edu
The effect of bat guano applied to the soil in different forms and doses on some plant nutrient contents by M Ünal, O Can, BA Can, K Poyraz – Communications in soil …, 2018 – Taylor & Francis
The use of bat guano in the improvement of the nutritive value of poor quality roughage fed to ruminants in Tanzania by P Sebastian Mlay, F Sagamiko – Veterinarski arhiv, 2008 – hrcak.srce.hr
Mercury and Other Trace Metal Analysis in Bat Guano by AL Houchens – 2020 – digitalcommons.wku.edu