There are three species: the long-tailed bat, the lesser short-tailed bat, and greater short-tailed bat. The greater short-tailed bat is thought to be extinct.
The long-tailed bat and short-tailed bat are classed as 'critical/vulnerable'. They are in danger of extinction in the medium term if nothing is done to reverse their population declines. These species are a high priority for conservation.
Maori folklore refer to bats as pekapeka and associate them with the mythical, night-flying bird, hokioi, which foretells death or disaster.