If you ever wanted to see a bat up close, the odds are in your favour in the Okanagan, as right now the pups are learning to fly.
The Okanagan Got Bats? BC Community Bat Program has a clear message, though: if you do see one, keep your distance.
“Never touch a bat. Be really careful and leave the bat alone if that’s possible,” said Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, regional coordinator with the Okanagan Got Bats? BC Community Bat Program.
“Less than one per cent of the population of bats do carry rabies. It’s a serious disease and people need to be really aware of it. That is why we teach people to never touch a bat with their bare hands.”
If you have bats in your area it’s especially important to keep your pet’s rabies shots up to date to keep them protected. Most importantly never touch a bat unless you have to. If the bat is in reach of children or pets, that’s when you can step in and move it safely.
Rodriguez de la Vega says to put on thick gloves, then find a twig that is two or three feet long and place it underneath the bat to grab onto with its back legs. Then take it to a shaded tree and place it up high so that it can take off that evening.
You can also move a bat with a cloth bag. Place the bag on top of the bat while wearing gloves, then use the handles to hang the bag on a shaded tree. But make sure that it stays open so the bat can get out.
“Bats are super important. They are incredible predators of night-flying insects — for example, a lactating female can eat her body weight worth of insects in one night. Which is a lot of insects,” said Rodriguez de la Vega.
That’s approximately 4,000 insects in one night from one bat.
If you have any questions about bats, the BC Community Bat Program is happy to answer them. To contact them visit their website www.bcbats.ca