Bats are nocturnal mammals that play an important role in the ecosystems of British Columbia. The 16 species of bats in BC are protected by the BC Wildlife Act. There are nine species of bats on Vancouver Island.
Being natural pest controllers, bats are invaluable to the balance of nature and allies for farmers. All BC bats feed exclusively on insects and are vital for maintaining healthy and balanced ecosystems. Our local bats eat night-flying insects including mosquitoes, beetles and moths. A nursing female bat can consume up to 600 insects an hour and 100% of her body weight in a night!
The possibility of being infected by rabies is small but you should take precautions if you find a bat.
If bats get into your house, close the doors to other rooms, turn off the lights and open outside windows and doors. Using a pillowcase, carefully pick up a sleeping bat. Wear a leather glove if possible. Try to place the bat in a safe spot, out of the reach of cats.
To prevent bats from entering the house, inspect and repair cracks under your eaves, around pipes, vents, doors and windows.
If bats are roosting in a remote area of the house, you may want to leave them and provide them a home. But if having bats co-exist in your home does not appeal to you, building (or buying) a bat house is a good alternative.
If you feel evicting the bats from your home is necessary, first listen for squeaks, inspect for brownish oil stains that rub off their coats, look for guano, and watch the suspected entrance at dusk.
Close off the bat entrance only when you are certain they are gone. You can make a one-way escape valve from screening by installing it over the main exit or use polypropylene bird netting to make a large flap over the hole. It is illegal, ineffective and cruel to use pesticides to try to remove bats.
Bats are active at dusk and dawn navigating in the dark using echolocation to find prey. They send out ultrasonic sound waves and listen for the echoes.
Humans pose the biggest danger to bat populations. Harm can come to the bats if the colony is disturbed while they are hibernating. If a bat is wakened from hibernation, it uses up a lot of energy, and increases the possibility that the bat’s stored fat will be insufficient to keep it alive for the rest of the winter. Insects treated with toxic pesticides can kill bats that eat them. Deforestation is another human activity that can affect bats as logging reduces the availability of roosting places.
Want to learn more about bats? Visit https://hat.bc.ca/bats
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