International Bat Appreciation Day occurs annually on April 17th and is a great time of year to observe emerging and arriving bats and learn about the important role they play in nature. The following are some general quick facts about bats that you should be aware of.
Interesting Bat Facts
- BC has 16 species of bats, the greatest diversity of any Canadian province. So far six have been confirmed on Mayne Island.
- Globally there are over 1,200 species of bats, approximately 1/5 of all the mammal species. Nearly 70% of these bats are insectivores.
- BC’s largest bat is the Hoary Bat, with a wing span of 39 cm and weighing as much as a dinner fork.
- Some species of bats can live up to 40 years.
- Bats reproduce slowly, usually having only one pup per year.
- Bats are the only mammal naturally capable of true and sustained flight.
- Bats can see in the dark, have very good hearing, and use echolocation to navigate and find food.
- All bats in Canada are insectivores, playing a vital role in managing insect populations—in one hour, a bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes.
- Bats in Canada hibernate or migrate in the winter, with little known about how and where.
- Bats are clean animals, grooming themselves almost constantly.
- Bats don’t chew wood or wires like rodents. Their sharp teeth are used to crunch hard bodied insects.
- Half of BC’s 15 bat species are listed as vulnerable, threatened, or endangered. Bat populations are in trouble due to many threats including habitat loss, and White-nose Syndrome.
- All bats in BC are protected under the Wildlife Act.
Bats in Our Community
- Bats emerge from hibernation or return from more southern areas in the spring.
- Bats roost in natural and artificial sites such as old trees, buildings, and bat boxes, which are critical habitats for bats in BC.
- Many roosts in human structures are maternity colonies, used year after year by related groups of females who are preparing to give birth.
- Bats consume an abundant number of insects such as mosquitoes and agricultural and forest pests.
- Bats are fascinating and provide a great learning opportunity, especially for children.
What You Can Do to Help
- Report known roost sites, dead bats, and unusual late winter/early spring bat behavior (e.g., bats flying during the daytime) to the Mayne Island Conservancy – firstname.lastname@example.org or also contact email@example.com or 1-855-922-2287.
- Work with local or regional groups to conserve bat habitats (e.g., save old trees and buildings, protect water bodies) on your property and in the community.
- Participate in monitoring and habitat enhancement programs (e.g., box installation) to help bats.
- Educate your friends and families about bats, their benefits, and the threats they face and encourage them to be stewards of these important species.
Bats are important, are in trouble, and need your help.
- BC Community Bat Program www.bcbats.ca
- BC Bat-friendly Communities: https://bcbats.ca/attachments/BC-Bat-friendly-Communities-Guide-2018.pdf
- NatureKids BC: https://www.naturekidsbc.ca/be-a-naturekid/stewardship-citizen-science/bat-citizen-science/
- Project EduBat: https://batslive.pwnet.org/edubat/
- Bat Conservation International: https://www.batcon.org/about-bats/
- BatWeek : https://batweek.org/
In keeping with raising awareness and understanding of the importance of bats to our ecosystem health, the Conservancy will be publishing the series ‘Meet our Bats ‘ written by Sophia Silverman, the Conservancy’s part-time student intern. Starting in May watch for the species profiles of the six bat species we have confirmed for Mayne Island.