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 Alberta's bats are small, insect-eating mammals with true flight ability. All Alberta bat species are nocturnal, flying at night in search of insects they locate with an echo location system. Bats emit a series of inaudible, high frequency sounds that bounce off flying insects and other objects in their path. The echo tells the bat the direction and distance to the object; the bat can then capture flying insects and avoid obstacles.

When inactive, bats hide in dark, secluded retreats or roosts; although in Alberta during late summer, many bats hang upside down in alcoves and under overhangs on the outside of buildings.

All nine species of Alberta's bats are migratory, living part of the year in different locations. Spring to fall is spent feeding and rearing young. In winter, the bats hibernate in caves, trees, buildings and other suitable sites in Alberta and elsewhere.

Bats in Alberta are considered beneficial because they eat insects. Some bats consume up to one-half their weight in insects per night.

Because bats are important and valuable mammals, they should be treated as an asset in reducing the population of harmful or annoying insects. Consequently, people may wish to attract bats to their home or acreage.

The large majority of insectivorous bats pose no threat to human health. Rabies virus is an exception and has been identified in a variety of bat species throughout North America; however, many of the facts about rabies and bats have been sensationalized and misrepresented.

Although individual bats should be handled cautiously, widespread fear and persecution of these mammals are unwarranted. Control of bats for disease prevention is seldom required. For further information on bats, click the link to the Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development website.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Phil Merrill.
This document is maintained by Stacey Tames.
This information published to the web on October 1, 2012.
Last Reviewed/Revised on October 9, 2012.