Unusual weather causes unusual wildlife behaviour
Ontario recently experienced unusually warm temperatures for the middle of January, even into double digits in Southern Ontario, and that sent many animals out from their usual locations. Surprisingly, even a garter snake was witnessed crossing a sidewalk in Cambridge, Ontario during the warm spell.
Bats are also being affected by the weather. The warm temperatures have been known to draw the bats out to feed and drink. This is expected behavior during these warms days, however, sometimes they get left out in the cold and do not always find shelter in time before the temperature drops. Although daytime flying behavior can be normal in warm temperatures, it can also be a symptom of White-nose Syndrome in cold winter conditions.
The Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre has been monitoring bats and bat behavior for White-nose Syndrome since 2009, and the fungus has been identified in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (click here for map). Only known to affect bats, this syndrome is associated with a fungus that can sometimes be seen growing primarily on the muzzle, as well as wings and ears, which disturbs their pattern of hibernation through the winter. If you see any bats exhibiting odd behavior over the winter months, such as daytime flight in cold weather, it is important that you do not make contact with the bat. There is always a chance that bats can carry harmful pathogens, such as rabies, that can be transferred to people. If the bat does not seem to be moving for several days, or you find dead bats, please feel free to contact us for more information.