A wildlife rehabilitation centre has gone to bat for hundreds of furry critters in need. A large colony of big brown bats was rescued after being discovered hibernating in the attic of a curling arena in Unity Saskatchewan. As reported by CBC, DTS Roofing & Bat Service was called in to safely remove the uninvited guests. The company removed 386 bats and delivered them to Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation for care, but estimates that there are likely hundreds more in the building.
Big brown bats are a common species of bat in Saskatchewan. They are ‘big’ relative to other bat species; big brown bats generally weigh in at around 20 grams. They survive the cold Saskatchewan winters by seeking out shelter and hibernating.
It’s not a surprise to find bats hibernating in an old building. Big brown bats can squeeze through very small spaces, says Jan Shadwick, executive director and wildlife rehabilitation at Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, the centre that is now caring for the rescued bats. Bats will make their ways into attics and rooftops, where insulation allows them to stay warm and cozy throughout their hibernation.
You don’t need to be undergoing renovations to have a bat turn up mid-winter in your home or cottage. Bats will occasionally wake up during hibernation. As they follow hot water pipes throughout the home in search of warm spots, they may pop out and be spotted by the homeowner.
If you find bats hibernating in your home or cottage during the wintertime, careful steps are needed to manage their eviction. If the bats are thrown out into the cold, they will starve. Shadick says to contact a local wildlife rehabilitation centre to find a place for the bats to finish their hibernation.
If only a small number of bats need to be removed, the homeowner can transport the bats to a rehabilitation centre themselves. Shadick says to take a small plastic tub—she advocates the use of ice cream tubs—poke it with numerous air holes, and then place a towel in the container for the bats to hang on. Wear heavy gloves at all times when handling a bat.
Finding bats in the summertime is a different story. “If it’s summer, then the bats don’t have to be hibernated,” says Shadick. Homeowners can seek out a roofing company or wildlife management expert to install an exclusion device that will prevent the bats from re-entering the home after their night flight.
“Not all pest management companies deal with bats in a humane manner,” Shadick warns. “If you value the bats but don’t want them in your attic, please make sure when you’re talking to a pest management company that it’s a company that will keep the bats alive.”
Shadick hopes to install bat houses in the Unity area so the bats will have a home when they are released back into the wild come springtime. She explains that bats are good neighbours to have in a community. “Bats are amazing,” she says. “They eat half their weight in mosquitoes every night.”
“We can still give our bats a place to live, without having them inside of our structures,” says Shadick.