Bats of Canada

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There are eighteen indigenous species of bats in Canada, which are found in many parts of the country. They are insectivores, and are prey to falcons, hawks, owls, snakes, cats, and raccoons.[1][2]

Species[edit]

A red-coloured bat hanging upside from a thin tree branch using the black claws on its feet. Small clusters of three leaves sprout from buds on various branches in the foreground and background.
A red bat roosting in a tree

The little brown bat is the most common and widely distributed of Canada's bat species,[3] more prevalent in Eastern Canada than in Western Canada or Northern Canada.[4] The nocturnal bat roosts in dark places during the day, and preys on insects at night.[5] Their echolocation calls are emitted 20 times per second, increasing to 200 times per second while chasing prey.[6]

The habitat range of the big brown bat is in the southern parts of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, and throughout Alberta.[7] Males are solitary, whereas females "gather in maternity colonies in the spring and summer", consisting of up to 75 adults with their offspring.[8] They forage at night on dry, warm evenings, catching and eating flying insects in the air.[8] They hibernate in the winter, migrating short distances to find an appropriate roost, such as mines and caves.[8]

The largest bat in Canada is the hoary bat,[3] which inhabits all of Alberta, southern British Columbia, the southern half of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, most of Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, and the southern parts of Quebec.[9] The solitary bat has a coat of grey fur with white tipped hairs, giving it a "frosted" or "hoary" appearance.[10] They roost in trees, and prey on large insects such as wasps, dragonflies, beetles, and moths.[10]

Northern long-eared myotis bats are found throughout Eastern Canada, southern Manitoba, northern Alberta, and parts of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, and Yukon.[11][12] It hibernates in caves and mines, and perches to eat insect prey.[3][11]

Sometimes observed in British Columbia, the solitary red bat is generally found throughout the southern parts of Canada from Alberta to Nova Scotia.[13] The slow, graceful flying bat migrates south in groups in the autumn and winter.[13][14] It preys on flying insects, and roosts in trees and shrubs.[3][13][14]

The reclusive silver-haired bat[15] resembles the hoary bat,[16] but has a "deep chocolate brown color with a white frosting on its back and abdomen".[17] Its habitat is primarily forested areas in the southern parts of Canada, where it is common and roosts alone in logs or under bark,[3] but it is also found in grassland.[16] Groups congregate for southward migration in the autumn and winter,[17] though some individuals may undergo torpor and hibernate instead.[16] Its preferred food is small, flying insects, especially moths, for which they forage after sunset in forest canopies or over streams and stagnant waters.[16]

Eastern Canada[edit]

The Eastern pipistrelle is the smallest of Canada's indigenous bat species.[18] It is also known as the tricoloured bat because it has fur in three colours: a base of grey, body of yellow, and tips in brown.[3] It has a habitat range along southern Ontario, the southernmost parts of Quebec, most of Nova Scotia, and part of New Brunswick. In late summer and early autumn, they migrate to caves where they hibernate.[19] It is a slow flyer, preferring slow-moving rivers and adjacent forests and woodlands.[18]

The Eastern small-footed bat is one of the smallest North American bats,[20] and one of the least common in Canada.[3] Its range is restricted to deciduous and coniferous forests in southern and central Ontario and the southernmost part of Quebec. A cold-tolerant bat, it enters hibernation later than other species, usually late November or early December.[20] It is identifiable by its slow, erratic flight.[20]

Western Canada[edit]

A bat with wings outspread flying from the black background toward the left side of the photograph. Its long ears are pointed upward, and the fine veining on its black wings is evident. The fur on its body and head is a brownish-yellow colour.

The California myotis habitat ranges into much of southern British Columbia and along most of its coast.[21] It is a nocturnal predator of insects, which it catches and eats in flight "over lakes, rivers, meadows, and forest clearings",[22] or any other open area.[21] They are sometimes used to control insect populations.[22] They hibernate in the winter, especially individuals at higher elevations.[21]

The fringed myotis is a vesper bat with a narrow distribution in Canada, primarily in the Okanagan. Its habitat is in vegetated areas. It is a fast-growing species, and the young reach adult size within three weeks.[23] About 70% of its diet consists of beetles.[23]

Keen's myotis is found along the British Columbia coast and toward the interior.[24] They hibernate in winter, sometimes forming a hibernaculum with other bat species in the region.[24] They prefer forested areas, feeding on insects.[25] The species is particularly active after sunset and before dawn.[24]

The long-eared myotis is a vesper bat whose fur colour ranges from dark brown to pale yellow.[26] It roosts in "rock outcroppings and dead trees"[27] in the southern parts of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.[28] They hunt over small bodies of water or dense vegetation, preferring moths and beetles.[29]

Mountainous and rugged terrains are preferred by the long-legged myotis, which has habitats throughout coastal and southern British Columbia and near the Rocky Mountains in the southern half of Alberta.[30] There, they inhabit coniferous forests and woodlands near streams, and eat soft-bodied insects, preferring moths.[31]

The Western big-eared bat, also known as Townsend's big-eared bat, has prominent wing-like ears.[32] It is a social creature, gathering in large clusters in its range in parts southern British Columbia,[33] and females will congregate in maternity groups in the spring.[32] It preys on moths in "open pasture and forest canopy".[32] In the winter, it will hibernate in nearby caves,[33] and on cool or cold days the rest of the year individuals will enter torpor.[32]

The yellow-brown backed Western small-footed bat has a range of southern British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.[34] It roosts alone or in small groups, preferring damp caves, mines, or rock crevices.[34] It is an insectivore, eating moths, beetles, and ants.[34]

The Yuma myotis, similar in appearance to the little brown bat, is found primarily in the coastal regions of southern British Columbia.[35] It feeds on soft insects as it cruises low over small bodies of water, and prefers forest clearings.[36][37]

Species at risk[edit]

A spotted bat, of which there are fewer than 100 in Canada.

The pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) is characterised by slate grey wings, cream or pale yellow-brown fur on its body, tan-coloured ears, and eyes larger than those of most bats.[38] Its range in Canada is restricted to the Okanagan Valley in southern British Columbia, as its preferred habitat is open, arid and semi-arid terrain with sparse vegetation or cultivated fields or dry grasslands,[38] and roost in the crevices of cliffs.[39] It is a threatened species in Canada, where its population is "unknown but it likely is quite small", and is on the list of wildlife species at risk maintained by Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) via Environment Canada.[38][39] The primary risk to the pallid bat in Canada is "the harsh climate and naturally low availability of adequate habitat"[38] and continued habitat loss from development, as well as pesticide use in fruit-growing areas within their habitats; they eat insects including beetles, grasshoppers, and moths.[40] It is protected by the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on federally-owned lands, including Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area and nearby First Nations lands, and is also protected by the British Columbia Wildlife Act.[38]

The spotted bat (Euderma maculatum) is a species of special concern in Canada. The large-eared black bats were first discovered in Canada in 1979,[39] with a range restricted to southern British Columbia.[41] These solitary mammals prefer habitats along waterways in regions with hot summers and mild winters, preferring to roost on cliffs.[41] There are fewer than 100 spotted bats in Canada,[39] an insectivore threatened by the use of pesticides which is also an endangered species in the United States,[41] and it is also protected by the Species at Risk Act and the British Columbia Wildlife Act.[41]

The little brown bat, northern long-eared myotis, and the Eastern pipistrelle are currently being considered for protection under the Species at Risk Act.

Distribution[edit]

Species Status Distribution
Common name Nomenclature Canada Global BC AB SK MB ON QC NB PEI NS NL YK NT NU
Big brown bat Eptesicus fuscus True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
California myotis Myotis californicus True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Eastern pipistrelle Pipistrellus subflavus False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg False.svg True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Eastern small-footed bat Myotis leibii False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg True.svg True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Fringed bat Myotis thysanodes True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Hoary bat Lasiurus cinereus True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg False.svg True.svg False.svg False.svg True.svg False.svg
Keen's myotis Myotis keenii True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Little brown bat Myotis lucifugus True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg False.svg
Long-eared bat Myotis evotis True.svg True.svg True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Long-legged bat Myotis volans True.svg True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Northern long-eared myotis Myotis septentrionalis True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg False.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg False.svg
Pallid bat Antrozous pallidus True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Red bat Lasiurus borealis True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg False.svg True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Silver-haired bat Lasionycteris noctivagans True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg True.svg False.svg True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Spotted bat Euderma maculatum True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Western big-eared bat Corynorhinus townsendii True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Western small-footed bat Myotis ciliolabrum True.svg True.svg True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Yuma myotis Myotis yumanensis True.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg False.svg
Total species 18 16 9 8 6 8 8 7 1 6 2 2 3 0

There has also been one recorded sighting of an evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis) on Pelee Island, Ontario, from 1911, which is thought to be a stray occurrence.[42] There has been at least one recorded sighting of a big free-tailed bat (Nyctinomops macrotis) in British Columbia. There has also been one sighting of a hoary bat on the island of Newfoundland.

Disease[edit]

A small outcropping of rock from a wall in a cave is at the top, from which a bat hangs upside down, clutching the rocks edge with its claws. The bat's wings are folded and pressed close to its side, and its body is covered in white fur except at its head and shoulders, where the fur is brown, and its long, brown, leathery ears jut down. Its nose and mouth are surrounded and covered by a white, powder-like substance, as are parts of its wings and ears.
A little brown bat with white nose syndrome. The fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans covers parts of the face, ears, and wings.

In 2010, white nose syndrome was first confirmed in Canadian bat colonies in central and eastern Ontario and Quebec.[43] In 2011 and 2012, the spread of white nose syndrome destroyed a colony of 6,000 bats in a cave in New Brunswick.[44] The disease is spread by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, an invasive species[44] which grows in the skin of the bat, and has affected bats from Eastern Ontario to The Maritimes.[45][46] The fungus causes bats to warm prematurely and wake early from hibernation, forcing them to deplete their stores of fat before spring.[44] It is believed that "human activity in caves is contributing to its spread",[45] as humans may carry the disease on clothing or equipment to which bats may become exposed.[46] Many agencies and organizations in jurisdictions in eastern Canada and eastern United States are coordinating research and conservation programs to prevent its spread, including the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.[45][47] The three species in Canada affected by the syndrome have been recommended for endangered species status.[44] These are the little brown bat, northern long-eared myotis, and the Eastern pipistrelle.[46][48][49] By 2014, about 99% of brown-nosed bats in New Brunswick had died as a result of the disease, and it is considered functionally extirpated in some parts of eastern Canada.[50]

Bats may also transmit rabies to humans. Although rare, a bat bite or scratch, particularly from silver-haired bats, may result in rabies to humans, cats, or dogs.[1] Rabid bats usually lose their ability to fly, and rarely become aggressive.[51] Careless handling of bats is the main cause of rabies transmission, which has resulted in five human cases in Canada since 1925.[51] Fewer than 2% of bats in Canada are rabid, 95% of which are big brown bats.[51][52] Testing bats for rabies is usually performed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.[51]

Inhalation of dusty bat manure may result in histoplasmosis, which will present as a mild respiratory infection.[1]

There are no pesticides that may be used on bats in Canada.[1]

Conservation[edit]

In 2011, the Nature Conservancy of Canada received a $50,000 grant from Sustainable Forestry Initiative to research bat habitats for future conservation.[53] The Ministry of Natural Resources in Ontario is and biologists are monitoring bat populations.[47]

In eastern Canada, all eight species have had reductions in populations as a result of destruction of bat roosts, deforestation, pesticide use, and cave exploration.[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Health Canada
  2. ^ Ministry of Natural Resources: Bat Ecology
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Baily: 1997. Page 3
  4. ^ Bernhardt: Little Brown Bat
  5. ^ Bernhardt: Little Brown Bat
  6. ^ Smithsonian: Little Brown Bat
  7. ^ Bernhardt: Big Brown Bat
  8. ^ a b c Smithsonian: Big Brown Bat
  9. ^ Bernhardt: Hoary Bat
  10. ^ a b Smithsonian: Hoary Bat
  11. ^ a b Smithsonian: Northern Long-eared Myotis
  12. ^ Yukon News 2013.
  13. ^ a b c Bernhardt: Red Bat
  14. ^ a b Smithsonian: Red Bat
  15. ^ Ministry of Natural Resources
  16. ^ a b c d Smithsonian: Silver-haired Bat
  17. ^ a b Bernhardt: Silver-Haired Bat
  18. ^ a b Bernhardt: Eastern Pipistrelle
  19. ^ Smithsonian: Eastern Pipistrelle
  20. ^ a b c Smithsonian: Eastern Small-footed Myotis
  21. ^ a b c Smithsonian: California Myotis
  22. ^ a b Bernhardt: California Bat
  23. ^ a b Smithsonian: California Myotis
  24. ^ a b c Smithsonian: Keen's Myotis
  25. ^ Bernhardt: Keen's Bat
  26. ^ Smithsonian: Long-eared Myotis
  27. ^ Smithsonian: Long-eared Myotis
  28. ^ Bernhardt: Long-Eared Bat
  29. ^ Smithsonian: Long-eared Myotis
  30. ^ Bernhardt: Long-Legged Bat
  31. ^ Smithsonian: Long-legged Myotis
  32. ^ a b c d Smithsonian: Townsend's Big-eared Bat
  33. ^ a b Bernhardt: Townsend's Big-Eared Bat
  34. ^ a b c Smithsonian: Townsend's Big-eared Bat
  35. ^ Bernhardt: Yuma Bat
  36. ^ Smithsonian: Yuma Myotis
  37. ^ Bernhardt: Yuma Bat
  38. ^ a b c d e Environment Canada: Pallid Bat
  39. ^ a b c d Hinterland Who's Who
  40. ^ Smithsonian: Pallid Bat
  41. ^ a b c d Environment Canada: Spotted Bat
  42. ^ Kurta: 1995. Page 82.
  43. ^ Ministry of Natural Resources: White Nose Syndrome – Threatening Ontario’s bats
  44. ^ a b c d Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: 2012
  45. ^ a b c Ministry of Natural Resources: Bats and White Nose Syndrome
  46. ^ a b c Gutenberg: 2012
  47. ^ a b Fenton: 2010
  48. ^ Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada: 2012
  49. ^ Environment Canada: Tri-colored Bat
  50. ^ Moore
  51. ^ a b c d Ministry of Natural Resources: Bat Rabies — The Facts
  52. ^ Ministry of Natural Resources: Bats — Enjoy them from a Distance
  53. ^ Nature Conservancy of Canada and Sustainable Forestry Initiative: 2011

References[edit]

Redpath Museum[edit]

  • Bernhardt, Torsten. "Big Brown Bat". Canada's Species. Redpath Museum, McGill University. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • Bernhardt, Torsten. "California Bat". Canada's Species. Redpath Museum, McGill University. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • Bernhardt, Torsten. "Eastern Pipistrelle". Canada's Species. Redpath Museum, McGill University. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  • Bernhardt, Torsten. "Hoary Bat". Canada's Species. Redpath Museum, McGill University. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • Bernhardt, Torsten. "Keen's Bat". Canada's Species. Redpath Museum, McGill University. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • Bernhardt, Torsten. "Red Bat". Canada's Species. Redpath Museum, McGill University. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • Bernhardt, Torsten. "Long-Eared Bat". Canada's Species. Redpath Museum, McGill University. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  • Bernhardt, Torsten. "Long-Legged Bat". Canada's Species. Redpath Museum, McGill University. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  • Bernhardt, Torsten. "Little Brown Bat". Canada's Species. Redpath Museum, McGill University. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • Bernhardt, Torsten. "Silver-Haired Bat". Canada's Species. Redpath Museum, McGill University. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • Bernhardt, Torsten. "Townsend's Big-Eared Bat". Canada's Species. Redpath Museum, McGill University. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • Bernhardt, Torsten. "Yuma Bat". Canada's Species. Redpath Museum, McGill University. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 

Smithsonian[edit]

  • "Big Brown Bat". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • "California Myotis". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • "Eastern Pipistrelle". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  • "Eastern Small-footed Myotis". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  • "Fringed Myotis". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  • "Hoary Bat". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • "Keen's Myotis". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • "Little Brown Bat". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • "Long-eared Myotis". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • "Long-legged Myotis". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  • "Northern Long-eared Myotis". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • "Pallid Bat". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • "Red Bat". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • "Silver-haired Bat". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • "Townsend's Big-eared Bat". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • "Western Small-footed Myotis". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  • "Yuma Myotis". North American Mammals. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 

External links[edit]