Bats have long been feared and misunderstood, but they are fascinating creatures, not rodents with wings as previously thought. Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera meaning “hand wing”, the second largest order of mammals, with more than 1,400 species worldwide. 15 of the 18 species of bats in Canada are found in BC.
With their forelimbs adapted as wings, they are the only mammals capable of true and sustained flight. Bat lifespans may be measured in decades, with astounding longevity of 34 years, reported for a bat in captivity. The usual lifespan of our Little Brown bats is between 7-12 years, while Yuma bats living as long as 20-30 years have been documented.
Excellent hunters bats possess an array of hunting tools. Contradictory to “Blind as a bat”, bats have keen eyesight in addition to their extraordinary hearing, which enables their unique ability to use echolocation to locate prey. At first sight, their needle-sharp teeth may cause concern, but these are the tools that allow them to easily penetrate the carapace or exoskeleton of certain insect prey, so they can capture and consume during flight.
Bats are vital to the health of our natural world and economy. Although we may not always see them, bats are hard at work all around the world each night – eating tons of insects, pollinating flowers, and spreading seeds that grow new plants and trees.
Voracious insectivores, bats rid our yards and fields of destructive, unwanted, and potentially dangerous disease-carrying insect pests. Some of the mosquito-borne and spread illnesses in North America are Zika virus, West Nile virus, and malaria. In fact, a major project in Texas eliminated malaria in a particular area, saving thousands of lives. Read more…
Bat guano is used as a high nitrogen fertilizer, in combination with other nutrients in commercially produced formulations. Click here for more info on bats and agriculture. On a smaller scale, the application of bat guano collected from the attic of the Peachland Historic School significantly improved the vitality of grapevines at Saxon Winery, in nearby Summerland. Currently, a similar program is underway with Hainle Vineyards Estate Winery in Peachland to study the outcome of treating four rows of grapevines, with our guano. A bat house and bat-friendly garden have been installed to encourage the establishment of a resident colony.
Disease resistance: new research is underway to determine reasons why long-lived bats are able to withstand certain viral strains without suffering any illness themselves.