About Bats

There are 10 known species of bats on Vancouver Island, and all of them face threats from habitat loss, predatation by cats, and from the future arrival of White Nose Syndrome. Unfortunately, we know little about bat habits and population on Vancouver Island. HAT's Community Bat Program is working to better understand bats in the Capital region, and helping homeowners with bats in buildings find ways to live with the bats, or exclude them in a way that does not harm them.

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Learn more about how you can help our local bat populations. HAT's program is part of the Community Bat Programs of BC.

 

 

Bat w Cori

About Bats in the Capital region

While there are about 10 species of bats in the region, they all have a few things in common:

  • All our bats are insectivores, meaning they all eat bugs. In fact, they eat more insects than any other nighttime predator. No bats in Canada eat fruit or blood.
  • All our bats are relatively small. Most bats with their wings spread are smaller than adult's outspread hand, though a few grow up to 20cm. 
  • All are suffering from major habitat loss, including loss of important feeding areas on streams and wetlands, and roost areas in wildlife trees.
  • All are long-lived (over 30 years for some species) and reproduce slowly. Most species have only 1 baby each year, though a few species are known to have twins.

Several of our bat species are considered to be at-risk, including the Keen's Myotis and Townsend Big-eared Bat. The Little Brown Bat has been recommended for Endangered status by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada due to dramatic population losses from White Nose Syndrome in Eastern Canada.

Common Name Scientific Name At-Risk Status Summer Dwelling
Big Brown Bat Eptesicus fuscus Not at risk Buildings, Dead/dying trees, rock crevices, cliffs
Silver-haired Bat Lasionycteris noctivagans Not at risk Live and Dead/dying trees
Hoary Bat Lasiurus cinereus Not at risk Live and Dead/dying trees
California Myotis Myotis californicus Not at risk Buildings (not common), Dead/dying trees, rock crevices, cliffs

Long-eared Myotis

Myotis evotis Not at risk Buildings (not common), Dead/dying trees, rock crevices, cliffs
Little Brown Myotis Myotis lucifugus Canditate for Endangered Species Buildings, Dead/dying trees, rock crevices, cliffs, mines
Long-legged Myotis Myotis volans Not at risk Buildings (not common), Dead/dying trees, rock crevices, cliffs
Yuma Myotis

Myotis yumanensis

Not at risk Buildings, Dead/dying trees, rock crevices, cliffs
Keen's Myotis Myotis keenii Red-listed in B.C. Dead/dying trees, rock crevices,
Townsend Big-eared Bat Corynorhinus townsendii Blue-listed in B.C. Buildings, Dead/dying trees, rock crevices, cliffs

What threats do bats face in the region?

Bat in the Capital region continue to lose habitat at a rapid pace. They typically feed near wetlands, streams, creeks, and rivers, but over 80% of wetland areas have been lost in Victoria. Most of our bat species rely on wildlife (dead) trees for roost sites, but most wildlife trees have been lost as well. Bat houses, particularly if they are close to a wetland area, may provide important roosting habitat for bats.

Do bats spread disease?

Bats are the only known transmitter of rabies on Vancouver Island, and for that reason many people fear them. Caution and care is appropriate if you find a dead or injured bat, but there is little reason to fear. Less than 1 in 1000 bats carries rabies, and transmission to humans is rare. However, rabies is a serious illness that can be fatal. To protect yourself:

  • Never handle bats
  • Beware of bats that act strangely, such as flying during the day
  • If you are bitten or scratched by a bat, seek medical attention immediately – the vaccine is excellent (5 small injections in the arm, not shots in the stomach like it used to be decades ago)

In Alberta and tropical areas, people have contracted histoplasmosis, a fungal lung disease through contact with bat guano, although this has not occured in British Columbia. To be safe when working in areas with bat guano:

  • Use a respiratory mask that filters to 2 microns when cleaning up bat guano
  • Dampen bat droppings before cleaning them up
  • Seal droppings in a plastic bag for disposal
  • Clean surface wtih a dilute bleach solution (1 part bleach to 20 parts water)

For more information about bats and human health, see Bat Conservation International's information on Bats & Human Health.

What can I do if a colony of bats is living in my house or an outbuilding?

If you are comfortable with bats in your building, we encourage you to learn to live with them. Bats do not damage buildings (remember they are not rodents), and an important colony may be relying on the site. The Community Bat Programs of BC provides some advice on how to live with bats. 

If wish to remove the bats from your building, we can help. Through our Community Bat Program, we can send a biologist to your home to assess the situation and help you develop a plan to exclude the bats without harming them. As a part of this, the biologist will work with you to identify an appropriate time of year and a good location nearby for a bat house that the colony of bats can use once they are no longer able to access your building. We will help you install the bat house if needed. Contact us at 250 995-2428 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

What can I do to help bats?

Bats do need your help, and there are many ways to get involved:

  • HAT needs volunteers and participants to record bats as part of the Annual Bat Count. Contact us at 250 995-2428 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out what you can do.
  • We need reports of bat colonies in the region. If you know of a colony, please contact us. We also need volunteers to monitor colonies so we can learn about them.
  • Place a bat house on the home,outbuilding, or on a pole in an open area on your property.  Information on bat houses, including plans for making the houses and notes on placement, can be found at the Community Bat Programs of BC website.

Learn more about bats

The Community Bat Programs of BC website has more information about our bats, bat houses, how to exclude bats, and many other resources.

Bat Conservation International has a weath of information about bats, bat research, and bat conservation.

About HAT's Community Bat Program

What you can do to help our local bat populations in your backyard or as a volunteer

 

 HAT Community Bat Program Sponsors

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