|Introduction to Bats||Flying Foxes||Micro Bats||Canadian Bats||Bat Problems & Diseases|
|Rabies||Bat Bugs||Dermestid Beetles||Bat Exclusions||Bat Conservation|
Introduction to Bats
When some people hear the word "Bats", it sends chills down their spines and raises the little hairs on the back of their necks. Traditionally in western countries bats are portrayed as evil, dirty, blind, disease carrying, flying rats that will fly into your hair. The primary reason for their fears stems from the many exaggerated old myths and Hollywood stories. We all remember seeing Dracula turning into a bat, flying into the unexpected victimʼs room at night and sucking all the blood out of their body when they are sleeping. It is interesting to see the contrast in the beliefs in other areas of the world. For example in China bats have a much different representation. They see bats as sign of bravery, strength, health, wealth, fertility and good luck. This is evident when you see bat symbols decorating their jewelry, pottery, weapons, drapes, and furniture.
Many people assume that the closest relative to bats are rodents. Even though rodents look similar to some bats, they are not their closest relative. If you look carefully at the bat's body you can see that they have a very similar skeleton to primates. The greatest difference is that they have very long fingers with a thin membrane of skin stretched between each of the four fingers and body. This frame covered with skin and strong muscles, work as wings and allow the bats to fly. Bats are the only mammals that truly fly. We have all heard of flying squirrels but they do not fly, they just jump and glide.
Bats are a very successful, diverse, nocturnal group of mammals with approximately1200 living species (See Bat Photos). Flight makes bats unique among mammals and their mobility corresponds to a very wide distribution, found almost everywhere in the world except the Arctic and Antarctic. Besides the harsh cold temperatures, there is also no food. The Bat world has two primary divisions, the Mega-bats/flying foxes (150 species) and Micro-bats (1050 species).
The Mega bats (flying foxes) occur only in the Old World tropics and consist of 150 different species. They have dog like faces and are characterized by simple ears, large eyes, and large size. One species has a two meter wing span and weigh over 1kg. Very few of the flying foxes have the ability to echolocate. All flying foxes eat fruit, flowers, nectar, pollen and many species are known to travel long distances in search of food.
The Micro bats are more diverse, numerous and all of them can echolocate. Most of the micro bats eat insects, but others eat fruit, nectar, pollen, fish, other mammals, small reptiles, amphibians, and blood. Flight and echolocation have permitted these bats to exploit roost environments unavailable to most other vertebrates. Micro bats live in the foliage of trees, caves, leaves, rock crevices, tree cavities, bamboo and man-made structures.
In Canada we have a total of 19 species of bats and all eat insects. In Ontario we have 8 species and in the Georgian Bay/Muskoka region we have two primary species. They are the Big Brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) and the Little Brown bat (Myotis lucifugus). Both look very similar with the greatest difference being size. Big Brown bats are a medium to large species, brown fur, with a wing span of 32-39 cm, forearm of 42 to 51mm and weighs 14 to 30 grams. Little Brown bats are small to medium sized species, with a wing span of 22-27 cm, forearm length 34 to 40 mm, fur is olive brown to dark brown, and weighs 5 to 14 grams.
Other species found in Ontario are the Long Eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis), Eastern Pipistrelle Bat (Pipistrellus subflavus), Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris notivagans), Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis), Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinerus) and the Evening Bat (Nycticeius humeralis).
Most of the bat species in Ontario migrate south to warmer climates during the winter months.However some species such as the Big Brown, Little Brown and Silver-haired bats hibernate in Canada for the winter. Some will fly great distances (250 km) to find a winter hibernacula and some prefer to stay in the same roost site year round.
The primary reason both of these species are seen on a regular basis is because they are often found roosting in man-made structures such as buildings, bridges, and decks. Their common name is also the “House Bats”. Man-made structures provide ideal roosting areas because they often have openings larger than 5 mm (¼ inch). Holes which are the size of your baby finger are large enough for the bats to gain access.
These structures provide protection from predators, shelter from the elements, are generally located close to food and water, and the temperatures are ideal for the birth and rearing of young bats.