Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance  townsend_bigear
Fourteen species of bats live in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys out of eighteen species that occur in Canada. The great bat diversity is due to the variety of habitats we have from rocky bluffs, to forests, lakes and grasslands. Each species has its favourite habitat and diet. The Pallid Bat hunts over sage and antelope-brush grasslands and the vineyards that have replaced this habitat. They feed on larger insects on the ground such as grasshoppers, June beetles, and even scorpions. The Big Brown bat is a common sight in summer foraging over forests, lakes and urban areas for moths, termites and flies, while the Little Brown Bat chases tiny midges and moths.

Several species of bats in the Okanagan are considered “at risk” because of their small populations. Finding roosting habitat and sites for maternal colonies are the factors that limit bat populations. Females roost in maternal colonies where they give birth to one young and feed them milk for a few weeks before the young learn to fly and feed on their own. Male bats roost alone or in small groups in rock crevices, trees or under eaves and other man-made structures. Some bats take a break to rest and digest their food at night and may visit a night roost for a short nap.

Bats are protected by the BC Provincial Wildlife Act. The Pallid Bat, Western Red Bat, Spotted Bat and Townsend’s Big-eared Bat are considered species at risk. Very little is known about where bats hibernate in our province. The black and white Spotted bat, roosts in the crevices of cliffs above Okanagan lakes. Its large ears are as long as its body and unlike most bats, its echolocation clicks are audible to human ears. It feasts on moths until late October then disappears. It may hibernate deep in cliff crevices but this is only speculation.