The Truth about Our Nocturnal Neighbours: Three myths about bats debunked

The Truth about Our Nocturnal Neighbours: Three myths about bats debunked

As Halloween draws nearer, our minds start to wonder about the things that go ‘bump’ in the night. Ghosts, goblins, witches, and of course bats, have a long standing history of being symbols for Halloween. Bats, however, are much more than Halloween’s mascot; they represent a unique group of species that are hard to see and even harder to hear. With such an elusive nature and strong influence in scary movies it is no wonder myths have started to plague this species. Even though bats are relatively common, we still do not know much about them.  So cozy up as we demystify the common bat folklores.

Big Brown Bat Photo by Toby Thorne
  1. Myth: Bats are related to rodents

Do not let their appearance fool you, The Wildlife Conservation Society states that bats are more closely related to humans than rodents! However, unlike other primates they are impeccable fliers, and are members of the group Chiroptera meaning ‘hand-wing.’ According to the Nature Conservancy, bats are the only mammal with true flight and can reach speeds of up to 60km/hr!

  1. Myth: Bats are blind

Similar to other nocturnal species, bats can see extremely well at night, but what sets them apart is their use of echolocation. The Nature Conservancy describes echolocation as a technique that allows bats to locate objects or find prey. Bats emit a high-pitched sound that is inaudible to human ears and listen for the return echoes. Using the return echoes the bats can determine the location, size and even shape of objects.

  1. Myth: Bats drink blood

The movies may have gotten this point correct in a sense, according to the Nature Conservancy, 3 out of the 1,100 bat species worldwide are classified as “vampire bats.” No need to fret! This type of bat does not reside in North America. Of the bat species that live in Canada, most will consume insects as their main diet. The Wildlife Conservation Society states that during the summer months, bats can eat up to 100% of their body weight in insects.

There are five known species of bats that reside on the rare property, identified using acoustic equipment to record bat sounds in the environment. We partnered with the Ontario Land Trust Alliance to conduct acoustic surveys this year along our River Trail to gain more information on the species both living and feeding at rare. Species heard included the Big Brown Bat and the Eastern Red Bat.

OLTA_Toby_Big_Brown_photo provided by OLTA.png
Toby Thorne and a Big Brown Bat. Photo provided by the Ontario Land Trust Alliance

Take a hike through rare’s forest trails and see the trees these species will roost in and the expansive wetlands that breed the many insects bats consume. While walking our trails keep your eyes open for other exciting species that share these habitats with bats. I challenge you to discover your own truths about the species at rare.

By: Christine Head, rare Water Monitoring Intern


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