Summer is here, and with it comes camping and other activities that involve travelling inter-provincially or perhaps down into the United States. While you want to take the experience home with you, that should not include accidentally packing up a bat! Continue reading
They’ve had a superhero named after them – and it’s no wonder – bats are an essential part of ecosystems throughout the world, including here in Alberta, where we have nine species of insect-eating bats. In North America, the fungal disease White-nose Syndrome has devastated bat populations in the east, and has now been detected near Seattle. Continue reading
This is part two of a six part series on hibernators. You can read part one here.
What do bats do in the winter? Do they hang out with Dracula and his friends or plot how to best get tangled in your hair come spring? In Alberta, of our nine bat species, six hibernate:
- Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)
- Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis)
- Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus)
- Long-eared Bat (Myotis evotis)
- Long-legged Bat (Myotis volans)
- Northern Bat (Myotis septentrionalis)
and three migrate south to warmer locations:
- Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)
- Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans)
- Western Small-footed Bat (Myotis ciliolabrum)
There are about 1000 species of bats in the world, and most are beneficial. A little brown bat, for example, can consume more than 600 mosquito-sized insects in an hour. While these flying mammals aren’t blind there is no way they can see white-nose syndrome coming.
White-nose syndrome is a disease caused by a fungus that affects only bats using caves to hibernate. The fungus irritates the bats, causing them to wake during hibernation, and without available food (insects), they starve to death.
For most people, picturing Alberta brings to mind majestic mountains and rolling plains – caves aren’t high up on the list. But we’ve got lots of them – and the wildlife populations that go with them.
Bats are definitely in this category. Although they tend to stay out of sight, nine different species of bats call our province home – and the second oldest known bat in the world lived in Alberta as well (the oldest known lived in Russia).
Bats prefer to hibernate in cool, dark and moist spaces, which makes our cave systems perfect winter homes for them. But these caves also appeal to many other species – including human beings. Continue reading