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© Lora Denis
Bats have a bad rap, especially around this time of year. Thanks to Dracula, bats are seen as thirsty, bloodsucking creatures of the night but these harmless mammals play a vital role in sustaining the balance of ecosystems across the globe.
Bats are amazing animals. They help us pollinate important food crops and spread seeds that grow new trees. As insectivores, they help us manage pests that plague our homes, agriculture, forests and more.
So don’t be scared! The difference between fear and respect is knowledge so let’s celebrate Halloween and the last day of Bat Week by learning something new about bats.
Why not start with bats that live in Ontario? You can learn about local species in our new Ontario Bat Guide. Here’s a sneak peek of some facts from the guide.
1. Eight species of these nocturnal creatures live in Ontario. They are: the hoary bat, the eastern red bat, the silver-haired bat, the big brown bat, the tricolored bat, the little brown myotis bat, the northern long-eared myotis and the eastern small-footed myotis.
2. A newborn little brown bat weighs an astonishing 25 percent of its mother’s weight. In comparison, a human baby weighs about 6 percent of its mother’s weight.
3. Approximately 40 percent of the northern myotis’ global range is in Canada.
4. Eastern tricolored bats lose up to 30 percent of their body mass during hibernation between October and April. During spring and summer, they are efficient predators, catching an insect every two seconds and, in a mere 30 minutes, are able to increase their body mass by 25 percent.
5. White nose syndrome has decimated populations of several of our bat species. Caused by a fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans), it infects skin on the muzzle, ears and wings of bats.
Help us dispel myths about bats by sharing our Ontario Bat Guide with your friends and family.
I live on a farm near Peterborough Ontario. Do bats hibernate in bat boxes?
Good question. In Ontario, bats do not hibernate in bat boxes.
During warm months, bats in Ontario will shelter and rest in bat boxes, but in the winter cave-dwelling bats that stay in Ontario will hibernate in caves and crevices. Though, most bats found in Ontario in warmer months will migrate south for seasonal habitat, food and shelter in warmer climates.
I am thinking of putting up a bat box in my yard but am wondering if I have the correct conditions to attract bats?
I live a 5 minute walk to the lake with tones of bug activity however I have a small yard, there is a neighbourhood cat, and I live near a busy well lite street.
Thanks for any advice,
We apologize for this delayed response.
It sounds like your location may not be the most suitable, since you are close to a busy, well-lit street. The guidance on batwatch.ca
“Setting up a bat house | Neighbourhood Bat Watch” suggests one major reason for the decline of bats is the loss of habitat. One option to counteract this problem is install a bat house. A bat house is a shelter where bats can roost during the day.
batwatch.ca yet they recommend not setting one up close to bright, artificial light sources (e.g. street lamps). So setting a bat box up away from brightly lit areas is noted as more likely to be effective.
My husband found a small bat in a light fixture in the garage… appeared to be hibernating. We put it into a box with a blanket, but are wondering if there’s anything else em we should do for it? IE: do they wake up anytime during hibernation looking for what scarce food there might be?
Thank you for letting us know.
Most bats are indeed normally hibernating at this time of year. Here is a link to a website where you can find local wildlife centres: http://www.ontariowildliferescue.ca/wildlifecentres/ we ask if you could please contact them to provide help for this overwintering bat.
I have a brown bat on the outside of my house. I was sure he was dead until I read this. Now I wonder if he’s hibernating. He looked beautiful the first day and then it snowed the next and he’s not looking good. Any advice?
Since bats are protected! What do the Pest Control companies, and Extermination companies do with the bats? Who do they explain there actions
Thought I had mice in Attic, called Pest Control…he found one single Big Brown bat roosting in attic…he recommended exclusion in October….Is it Normal to have just one bat ? Did it have a Colony before and colony died off likely? Do Big browns hibernate at other winter locations or will they hibernate in attics? Thanks.
Endangered Species – Bats In Ontario
Do any of the 8 different bat species interact socially outside of their own type of bat?
I understand bats are known to have ‘friendship’ type relations within the colony but do bats interact socially with any other nocturnal mammals?
That is a great question. The Toronto Zoo’s Native Bat Conservation Program may be able to answer this. More information can be found here: http://www.torontozoo.com/bats.
Just fyi, put a bat box up in Collingwood this spring, and got a/some residents. Fun!
That is great news! So glad to hear you bat box is functioning and getting the intended and desired tenants! It must be wonderful to see bats eating insects and flying near Collingwood there!
A friend of mine living in Toronto, told me that she was not allowed to put up a bathouse in Toronto. Is that true ?
and if that is so: What can Ontario Nature do about it ?
It is true that citizens are not allowed to keep bats as domestic animals or pets in Toronto, as well as a meaningful list of prohibited animals, that list is available here: https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/animals-pets/pets-in-the-city/prohibited-animals/
However, people are allowed to place bat boxes on their property. We recommend the Bat Conservation International recommended bat house model: http://www.batcon.org/resources/getting-involved/bat-houses
The Toronto Region Conservation Authority also has a page with recommendations towards what you can do to help bats in your area and around Toronto: https://trca.ca/news/monitoring-native-bat-species/
Learn more about these amazing and wonderful winged species and how to further get involved as well as how to help bats here: http://onnaturemagazine.com/bat-guide.html
Great article Alex. I was wondering if you had any advice on building bat boxes? or plans you’d recommenced? I’d like to put one up next year.
Bat Conservation International has great practical advice on how to build and install bat boxes: http://www.batcon.org/resources/getting-involved/bat-houses .