Happy National Bat Appreciation Day - April 17, 2019
- Created: Thursday, 04 April 2019 10:51
Happy National Bat Appreciation Day!
By Ashlea Veldhoen, Community & Development Coordinator
April 17, 2019
Now that Halloween is over, few people maybe thinking about bats, but at HAT we always keep bats top of mind. As the weather warms up our bats are coming out of their hibernacula and returning to their summering areas to feed and reproduce.
At HAT we believe that everyone can make a difference to help these amazing animals. Each year we work with local people to help create bat-friendly communities across the CRD. Why? Because bats need our help. From habitat loss due to development to the spread of foreign disease, human activities have resulted in significant losses to bat populations across North America. Last year alone we lost over 1 million Little Brown Myotis to White-nose Syndrome, and the numbers continue to climb. Without a voice of their own, bats cannot tell us how their populations are struggling due to habitat loss, persecution and disease.
People just like you helped us find new bat colonies, report hundreds of dead bats, and conducted point-count surveys across the CRD, recording over 10,000 bats. We put up bat boxes and even installed a special bat “condo” for a large group of Townsend’s Big-eared bats at one of the new bat colonies found in Metchosin in last year!
All of this information will help us track the spread of White-nose Syndrome (which as of this writing has not made it to Vancouver Island) and learn more about our local bat populations.
To celebrate Bats, we’d like to share with you the top 10 reasons we love and continue to help them! We hope this list will help dispel some misconceptions you may have surrounding bats, and inspires you to love bats as much as we do!
Top 10 Reasons we love bats
Bats are mammals, just like us! Bat mothers typically will have only one pup per year. Much like human infants, bat pups are born tiny, hairless and defenseless. They cling to their mothers and nurse regularly until they are big enough to leave the roost on their own.
Bats are the only mammal capable of true flight. Bats use their leathery wings to achieve flight. Scientists are currently studying how bat flight is unique from the flight of birds. Check out this awesome video on YouTube on bat flight by Brown University.
Many bat species use echolocation to seek and catch their insect prey. While bats are not blind, they use echolocation to assist them in locating and catching their fast-moving prey in the dark. Different bat species echolocate at different frequencies. We can use a bat detector like the Anabat to record bat echolocation, connect the data to an iPad and special Bat Call monitoring software to determine which species is flying above us during bat counts.
Bats eat lots of insects! Some consume their own body-weight in mosquitos every night! Bats are so important to maintaining healthy ecosystems. As both a consumer and prey species, bats help control insect populations and nutrient cycling through food webs.
Many bat species – like the Little Brown Myotis and Townsend’s Big-eared bat – overwinter in rock crevices or caves, but some species also migrate long distances to warmer climates and over winter in trees
Bats are generally long-lived. The Little Brown Myotis lives up to 7 years in the wild. One was even recorded to be 31 years old!
It is generally considered safe for humans to live in near bats. There has been no evidence found to support any negative effects on humans living near bat guano in British Columbia. While rabies can be carried by bats, it is uncommon. If you or your pet has come into contact with a bat or have been bitten, go to your doctor or veterinarian to be sure you or your pet has not contracted the disease. Check out this link for more information on Living safely with Bats. http://bcbats.ca/index.php/got-bats/living-with-a-bats
Female bats stick together during pup season, roosting and raising pups all together in small maternity colonies. Male bats will generally roost alone.
Bats generally only fly at dawn, dusk and at night. Bats are expert fliers in the dark and use their echolocation to locate and avoid objects like trees, houses and people in the dark! Seeing a bat flying during the day – especially in winter – can be an indication of illness. Be sure to report your sightings of dead bats or any that show signs of illness to HAT (250) 995-2428 or the BC Community Bat Program (1-855-922-2287)
Bats are cute! At HAT, we sometimes refer to bats as flying puppies for their tiny ears, dog-like snouts and fluffy little bodies.
How can you help bats?
- Visit: http://hat.bc.ca/bats/what-you-can-do
Got Bats? Leave them alone and give us a call! If you have bats and would like to safely exclude them from your home, contact HAT or the BC Community Bat Program and we’d be happy to advise you. You can also check out some of these great publications about bats in buildings here: http://bcbats.ca/index.php/got-bats/excluding-bats-from-a-building
All 17 bat species in British Columbia are protected under the Provincial Wildlife Act and harassing, maiming or harming them in any way is a criminal offense. Give us a call if you have bats and would like to safely exclude them from your home.
Share this post with friends and family, and encourage them to help make their own Bat-friendly Communities!
HAT Bat Publication: http://hat.bc.ca/images/2014_Bat_Guide_FINAL_smaller.pdf
BC Community Bat Program: www.bcbats.ca
Other bat links
· Bat Education link: https://batslive.pwnet.org/
· Bat Conservation International: http://www.batcon.org/
· White-nose Syndrome: https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/
Bat Appreciation Day Links