Little brown bat

Kootenay National Park

Quick facts

Weighs 8 grams - a little heavier than a loonie
Navigates and hunts using echolocation
Lifespan of 30 years
Status endangered

close up of bat

Thanks to scary movies, bats get a bad rap. In reality, bats are very helpful, both to humans and to the ecosystem.

The little brown bat is one of six bats found in Kootenay National Park. The little brown bat can eat half its weight in insects per night, including mosquitoes, midges and mayflies. Like other bats, it helps keep forest insect populations in check!

Little brown bats roost in tree cavities and buildings. Females roost in groups called maternity colonies where they raise pups. In the winter, these bats hibernate in caves or abandoned mines.

White-nose Syndrome

White-nose Syndrome is an introduced fuzzy white fungus that appears on the nose, wings and ears of bats. It causes hibernating bats to wake up more often, depleting their fat reserves. They may also leave hibernation too early and starve or freeze to death. The fungus spreads quickly from bat to bat and can kill up to 99% of the bats at a site.

Where can I see little brown bats?

At dusk, the little brown bat can be seen swooping over ponds or through streetlights. However, since the human ear cannot detect their calls, it’s hard to tell what type of bat it is without specialized acoustic equipment.

If you find a dead, sick or injured bat in the park report it to Banff Dispatch (403 762-1470) so Parks Canada specialists can investigate. Do not handle the bat.

Why is the little brown bat in danger?

The single greatest threat to the little brown bat is White-nose Syndrome. Bat populations in eastern North America have plummeted due to the fungus which is rapidly spreading westward. This has led to the little brown bats status as endangered.

What are we doing to help this species?

Before the outbreak of White-nose Syndrome, little was known about bats in the park. Although the disease has not yet spread to Kootenay, we are preparing for its arrival by:

  • monitoring little brown bat populations and their movements.
  • identifying hibernation sites and maternity roosts in the park.
  • communicating and enforcing decontamination protocols for people entering caves so that they don’t spread fungal spores.

Learn More:

Bats in the mountain national parks
Canadian National White-nose Decontamination Protocol

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