Holy smoke: Rotorua bats take flight

Gotham City move over, Rotorua can now lay claim to a couple of real batmen.
In a scene almost straight from the DC comic, two men were bombarded by hundreds of bats in the early hours of this morning.
The flying mammals swooped on the businessmen, one from Rotorua and one from Invercargill, about 3am in Amohia Street.
But instead of charging off to fight crime in Rotorua’s underworld, the pair jumped into a passing taxi to escape their attackers.
Taxi driver Ngaia Monaham said she didn’t believe their tale at first, but then they showed her bite marks on their arms.
“They were like a whole lot of tack marks.”
The men didn’t seem too worried about the bites, she said.
The pair had apparently done nothing to incur the wrath of the bats other than walking under the trees.
After dropping the men to their destinations, Ms Monaham and a colleague returned to Amohia Street and watched the nocturnal animals for about two hours.
She said hundreds of them were flying between three trees.
“It was eerie, but it was exciting,” she said.
The born and bred Rotorua taxi driver said she had never known of bats roosting in the area.
Department of Conservation project manager for the Rotorua Lakes area office, Peter Corson, also said they did not know of any bats in the central city area – with the closest known ones about 20km out of the city.
“And certainly I’ve never heard of bats in New Zealand attacking people.
“I am cynical, but I wasn’t there” he said.
Bats had an incredible ability to sense objects, even in the darkest of areas, and usually avoided them, he said.
New Zealand has two species of bats, the short-tail and the long tail, and both prefer big old forests areas to live in.
Neither species was known to have a taste for human flesh and the nearest vampire bats to Rotorua could be found in South America, Mr Corson said.

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