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Bats are important to global ecosystems. There are about 1,200 bat species worldwide, more than one-fifth of the world's mammal species.
In the Northwest Territories (NWT), all bats eat insects. Some can consume their own body weight in insects each night. Bats are nocturnal which means they sleep during the day and are most active at night. Bats rely on echolocation (high-frequency sounds) more than their eyes to find food and move through the night skies.
In the summer, NWT bats roost (rest) in tree hollows, under tree bark, among the leaves of trees, in caves, in rock crevices, and in buildings. In the winter, some NWT bats migrate south to warmer areas. Other species stay and hibernate in caves or deep crevices.
Bats are sensitive to population decline because they have the slowest reproductive cycles of mammals their size on earth. Many bat species only produce one pup per year.
For the first time, in 2010, a major hibernaculum, the place where bats spend the winter in a dormant state, was discovered in the South Slave Region. More than 3,000 little brown myotis were observed in the cave in a dormant state. Before 2006, only three bat species were known to live in the NWT. There are now seven confirmed species and one suspected for a total of eight bat species in the NWT. Bats are widespread throughout the southern Northwest Territories.
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease associated with mass die-offs of hibernating bats in eastern North America. Although it is spreading rapidly, WNS has not been found in the NWT. Due to this imminent and serious threat, two NWT bat species, the Little Brown Myotis and the Northern Myotis, have been listed as Endangered in Canada and assessed as Special Concern in the NWT.
If you see a bat:
- Do not handle it
- Take a photo if you can
- Report all bat observations to firstname.lastname@example.org