Saving Bats, One Chiropteran at a Time!

Saving Bats, One Chiropteran at a Time!
Monday, November 13, 2023

Halloween is over and we’re still talking about bats? 

Well, yes, now that the fright fest is over, the little winged mammals need our help, even more so with the bitter cold of winter just around the corner. 

And at the Zoo de Granby, we love them so much that we’ve set up a special place just for them… a shelter, which has been accessible since November 6!

8 Species in Quebec

There are eight species of bats that can be found in Québec, and five of these spend their winters here. 

The “resident” bats are the little brown bat, the northern long-eared bat, the eastern small-footed bat, the big brown bat and the tricoloured bat. 

However, these small flying mammals need to hibernate during the coldest months. Since they’re all insectivores, they can’t feed in winter, and therefore don’t have the energy they need to function and keep warm. These bats generally choose an abandoned mine, or a natural cave, to gather and spend the winter at a cold but constant temperature. 

Their own body temperature in fact drops from 3 to 6 degrees Celsius, slowing down their metabolic functions. So it’s easy to understand how any disturbance during this critical period could prove fatal for these tiny animals weighing just a couple of dozen grams. 

This is particularly true for big brown bats, which use human infrastructures, among other things, as hibernation sites. 

Renovation or demolition work can short-circuit the bats’ sleep; this is when conscientious citizens and shelters can make a difference!

The Shelthers

There are only three bat shelters in Québec, including the one operated by biologists at the Zoo de Granby. 

Every winter since 2015, they’ve been responding to calls from citizens who, during the cold season, discover a chiropteran in their school, in their home or even, a small colony well hidden in the attic of their house. 

The small mammals are cared for by the Zoo team, with some animals needing veterinary care because they arrive in such poor condition. They’re kept in the shelter’s cold room, and are woken up periodically to be fed in order to improve their chances of survival! 

Then, when spring arrives, all the little residents are released into a suitable environment, giving them another chance to fulfil their ecological role and reproduce! 

Since the launch of its shelter, the Zoo de Granby has released more than 400 small chiropterans. Yes, although they’re associated with horror and vampires, bats are essential to their environment, and the decline in their populations is a true cause for concern!

Convinced that every bat counts? 

If you find a bat in your home, contact one of our biologists at 1 877 472-6299, ext. 2176. 

If you’d like to find out more about bats in Québec, how to build a dormitory, or how to get them out of your home safely, visit the “Neighbourhood Bat Watch” site.