A Big Brown Bat is one of many species that can be found on Vancouver Island. (Photo by Cory Olson)

International bat week: Focus on myth busting, conservation, celebration

International Bat Week runs from Oct. 24 to 31

Whether you’re a bat enthusiast, a curious amateur or Batman is your favourite superhero, International Bat Week is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the nocturnal critters.

Oct. 24 to 31 is a week dedicated to the annual celebration of bats and the role they play in nature.

Folks in Greater Victoria are invited to celebrate by stopping by the Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) bat booth at the Family Harvest Festival at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific on Oct. 26, said Paige Erickson, stewardship coordinator for HAT.

READ ALSO: Public’s help needed in tracking bat activity

Staff will be educating the public about the importance of bats, raising awareness and celebrating the little winged creatures.

There are a lot of common misconceptions about bats and myth busting is an important part of educating, Erickson noted. For example, “‘blind as a bat’ is just an old wives tale,” she said with a laugh. They can actually see very well.

However, while bats aren’t blind, many use echolocation rather than eyesight to find their food. Erickson pointed out that most bats eat insects and pests which helps folks in the agriculture and forestry industry save money. All bats in B.C. are insectivores.

With 15 species, B.C. has the most bat species in Canada and 10 of them can be found on Vancouver Island. Half the bat species in B.C. are at risk due to a fungal disease called White Nose Syndrome that can affect them during hibernation, Erickson explained. If a bat is seen out and about during the winter – when it should be hibernating – Erickson recommends calling HAT or animal control to help the bat.

READ ALSO: Second bat found at Greater Victoria elementary school tests positive for rabies

One way to help bats is to build them build a house to hibernate in. With the help of the guides like the handbook by the BC Community Bat Program, residents can build wooden homes for the little critters. According to the handbook, the key features of bat houses are a waterproof roof, dark colours, several internal chambers for bats to roost in and a grip surface on the back and sides.


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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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