Welcome to the first day of Bat Week (October 24-31, 2019)! This annual international celebration focuses on the importance of bats in our environment.
Of Ontario's bats, populations of little brown myotis bats, northern long-eared myotis and tricolored bats have been so affected that these are now considered provincially and nationally endangered, while the eastern small-footed myotis is considered endangered in Ontario.
Central Lake Ontario Conservation staff discovered the pups while scouting out a Whitby woodlot for education programming. After consulting with a bat expert at Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue, staff determined that the young bats should be brought in for care. With their tiny eyes still sealed shut, these lost, hungry twins, less than two weeks old, needed milk.
Through careful attention and regular feedings, one of the pups grew in strength, mobility and independence. This surviving pup was successfully released back into the Lynde Creek Watershed in early August. Weighing less than a chipmunk, with an adult wingspan the length of a bowling pin, Hoary Bats are the largest bats in Canada. As one of Ontario’s eight bat species, these nighttime fliers travel at bicycle speed (21 km/hour), using the reflected sound of echolocation to catch and eat flying insects—consuming hundreds of insects an hour.
These nocturnal insectivores are the only mammals that can truly fly. Their wings are made of thin skin, stretched between their body and their metacarpals and phalanges, or hand and finger bones. All bats belong to the unique scientific order Chiroptera which translates as “hand-wing.” Still, the reason bats hang upside-down is because they need that little drop through the air to be able to take off in flight.
If you know about bats, you’ve probably also heard of White-nose Syndrome. This nasty, non-native fungal disease interrupts bat hibernation and is responsible for killing millions of bats as they unnaturally awaken to winter’s hunger and cold. Thankfully, the Hoary bat’s migratory winter survival strategy and unsociable roosting behaviour has protected this species from the devastating effects of White-nose Syndrome.
Interested in learning more about bats or finding ways to celebrate bat week? Build your own bat house or consider hosting your own bat-themed party through the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Bat Party Fundraiser Kit.
Here are some more ways you can get involved and help our flying, furry friends!
What should you do if I see an abandoned baby animal? Usually an animal’s best chance of survival is to be left in the wild. Many young animals including rabbits, fawns and fledging birds may appear abandoned, even though it is normal for them to be left unsupervised by their parents. If you are concerned or encounter an injured animal, please contact Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue or the Toronto Wildlife Centre. If the animal is a turtle, please contact the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre. Remember, the goal of all wildlife rescue centres is to rehabilitate and return wildlife back to the same location where they were found.
Note: The aforementioned wildlife rehabilitation centres all operate under permits issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Remember that it is illegal to keep any wild animals as pets.