A rare and tiny bat has been named Australia's mammal of the year after a national poll that attracted more than 42,000 votes.
The golden-tipped bat, which only grows as big as the average person's thumb, beat out the dingo and Gilbert's potoroo to take the crown in the annual contest conducted by science magazine COSMOS.
"Through this event, we've come to realise just how many Australians love their bats," editor Gail MacCallum said.
"This year's winner relies on birds, spiders and multiple kinds of flora. It's a perfect example of interconnectedness."
The golden-tipped bat is found in dense forests down Australia's east coast, from north Queensland to just beyond the Victorian border.
It has a highly specialised diet, snacking on orb-weaving spiders that are plucked from their webs.
The bats' radar-shaped ears and ultra-high-frequency calls allow them to navigate through the cluttered forest understorey to zero in on their prey.
Their name comes from their fur, which helps them blend into their surroundings, including the bird nests they often use as homes.
The bats are known to scratch out a small chamber in the bottom of nests, even when they're still occupied.
The dingo finished in second place in the COSMOS poll for the second year in a row, while the third place for the Gilbert's potoroo continued the incredible comeback for the marsupial considered Australia's most endangered.
After going unsighted for 120 years and thought to be extinct, the potoroo was rediscovered at Two Peoples Bay in Western Australia in 1994.
There are estimated to be only about 120 left in the wild, mostly in safe havens on two regional islands.
Australian Associated Press