They outnumber other mammals on Vancouver Island significantly, yet they can only be seen at night and are difficult to hear.
They have been vilified and held in heroic positions (think Batman), but are not flying mice.
Conservation biologist Tim Ennis is the next guest on The Record’s Off The Page podcast set to be released on May 18 and talks all things bats.
“About 20 per cent of all mammal species on the planet are bats. So they make up a really huge component of biodiversity in the mammal kingdoms here on planet Earth,” explained Ennis, the co-ordinator of the North Vancouver Island Region of the BC Community Bat Program.
He noted the program came out of a community need to have a portal for science-based information, on how to live with bats, education and get fact-based information about the risks that bats might pose to human health.
While it’s difficult to say exactly how many bats there are in the Comox Valley, Ennis said there are 12 species in the area and noted while bats do carry rabies, statistically, it is very rare to contract the disease from the mammal — less than half of one per cent of wild bats are actually infected with rabies.
“It’s really important to remember from a health and safety perspective there are a few key points like never handle a bat with your bare hands. If you accidentally encounter one with your bare skin, you do need to go and get treatment for the possibility of contracting rabies, but the severity of which is very high for humans, but the likelihood of that being a transmissible disease to us based on the half of one per cent of bats carrying rabies is a super low likelihood,” he added.
In terms of their diet, bats serve a huge role in pesticide control, as they are all insectivorous — they eat insects across the world. Ennis said some serve as pollinators, and thanks to bats, we can have tequila.
Tequila, made from the agave plant, is chiropterophilous, meaning they are bat-pollinated.
There is also the infamous vampire bat, which Ennis noted does drink on the blood of other animals.
“But we don’t have any of those here,” he added. “All of our bats eat mosquitoes and moths and beetles and things that fly around at night.”
As for why Ennis is so passionate about bats? You’ll have to tune into the podcast to find out.
To listen to the full episode, download Off The Page on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and everywhere podcasts are heard, or visit omny.fm/shows/off-the-page.
New episodes of Off The Page drop every Wednesday.
To submit podcast topics or guest ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org.