Spotlight on the Pallid Bat

Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance Pallid Bat by Tanya Luszcz pallid_bat
Pallid Bat by Tanya Luszcz
Latin Name: Antrozous Pallidus
Federal Status: Endangered
Provincial Status: Red Listed (endangered or threatened)

The Pallid Bat is considered to be one of the rarest mammals in British Columbia. In all of Canada, it is found only in the South Okanagan and Similkameen valleys.

Characteristics and information

  • The Pallid Bat is the second largest bat in British Columbia with a body that measures 11.5 cm and a wingspan of 35 cm.
  • Their fur is creamy white on the underside and pale yellow on the back. It is often referred to as the ghost bat as it has a furry white abdomen.
  • Young are born in late May to mid-July.
  • Unlike most bat species, the Pallid Bat commonly bears two young.

  • Pallid Bats live in arid desert areas, often near rocky outcrops and water.
  • In the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys, they are restricted to low elevation grasslands and ponderosa pine forests in the vicinity of cliff faces.
  • Night roosts are close to foraging areas and consist of live ponderosa pines, rock shelters, open buildings, porches, bridges, shallow caves, mines and other human-made structures.
  • Day roosts include rock crevices in steep cliffs, stone piles, man-made structures and trees.
  • Forage over tracts of open grassland, sparsely covered with shrubs and often bordered by ponderosa pines; gravel roads may also provide foraging corridors.
Food Habits

  • Pallid Bats are late feeders, leaving day roosts about 45 minutes after sunset.
  • Pallid Bats feed on moths, beetles and other bugs and can eat up to 100% of their body weight each evening.
  • Usually glean prey from the ground and the foliage of trees and shrubs; occasionally pursue insects in the air using echolocation.
  • Consume large invertebrates including beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, moths and lacewings; there are records of this bat preying on small lizards and a rodent.
  • While hunting, Pallid Bats fly slowly, close to the ground, with rhythmic dips and rises; while hunting prey on the ground it listens for their rustling sounds.
Interesting Facts

  • After feeding, Pallid Bats cluster together at the night roost and become torpid (lower their body temperature and metabolic rate) for several hours if temperatures are cool.
  • A social bat, this species emits a variety of vocalizations for communicating in a colony; many calls are audible to the human ear.
  • Produce a musky skunk-like odour from glands on the muzzle, which may be a defensive mechanism for repelling predators.

  • Extensive land development in the South Okanagan-Similkameen has eliminated or fragmented their habitat (low elevation ponderosa pine forest, grasslands and riparian areas).
  • Heavy grazing may reduce availability of ground-dwelling insects.
  • Very sensitive to human disturbance.
  • Susceptible to cat predation.
Management Considerations

  • Avoid the use of pesticides, particularly near wetlands and riparian areas.
  • Protect known roosting sites from disturbance.
  • Maintain water levels in ponds as sources of drinking water and foraging areas. Avoid filling or draining wetland areas.
  • Discourage, free-roaming domestic cats, especially near potential bat habitat.

Photograph courtesy of Tanya Luszcz.

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