More bats of the north

In a previous article, I spoke about two of our most common bats. One of the others which is quite common here, and is much like the first two, is Keen’s Bat.
All three of these (Keen’s, Little Brown, and Big Brown) have quite a bit in common.
For one thing, they all hibernate in caves during the winter. These caves have to have certain characteristics, including being able to maintain a temperature of about 40° in the winter.
Old mine shafts serve very well, too.
These things are not always handy, so the bats often have to go 200 miles or more to tuck themselves away for the winter.
Our other three bats are quite different. Here they are:
•Silver-haired Bat
The fur of this one is quite dark—nearly black. But the body hairs are all tipped with silver, giving the appearance of silver frosting.
It is a solitary species which, during the days, hangs by itself in trees, under eaves, or in nooks and crannies of buildings.
•Hoary Bat
This is our largest bat, about six inches in length. It has three different colours on its body—slate, tawny yellow, and dark brown.
All of the long hairs have silver tips so it also has the appearance of being frosted (“hoary” is an old English term, meaning frosty).
•Red Bat
The nicest-looking of them all. Its back is brick red and its front a bit paler. It is of medium size, and is found all over Eastern Canada and down as far as Central America.
These bats are all loners and they live in trees, not caves. They may hang themselves to the trunk, get into a thick clump of leaves, or even hide under loose bark, or in crevices.
These bats are all different in another major way—they all migrate. Like many birds, they gather in large flocks in the fall and head down to warmer, more hospitable climates.
Some, but not all, go as far south as the Gulf States and California.
Lots of flocks have been spotted way out in the Atlantic, and many take a long nest in Bermuda. With modern radar, we can follow the paths of migrating bats and birds quite accurately.
There is one rather bad thing about the small bats, especially the brown ones. They roost in the daytime in large numbers. Quite often they do this in buildings—old schoolhouses, barns, derelict houses, and so on.
And once in a while, they get into the top part of a building or even your attic.
Now, as they are there all day, quite a lot of bat droppings are piled up. Not only is this stuff sort of runny, but it also stinks to high heaven. A build-up of bat dung is really quite revolting.
What you have to do is find where they are getting in and block it up. That isn’t all that easy, either. I found out one time that they can slip through the wires of a birdcage just as though the wires weren’t there.
There is no easy spray or chemical which will make them leave or keep them out.
Look for bats at dusk when they come out to feed on those multitudes of insects. They will fly until the sun starts to come up.
Usually, you can spot them flying erratically fairly low in your garden or above the trees along the street. They also skim along the surface of still water, which is how they drink.
Bats are completely beneficial to mankind. The amount of insects they eat is enormous. Birds in the daytime and bats at night do away with an awful lot of our most pesky bugs.
There is no reason in the world why a bat should ever be killed. You even can encourage them by building a “bat-house.”
But if they ever get into your own house, get them out as fast as you can!

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