Maternal Bat Roost Habitat Enhancement Project in Mystic Vale, Victoria, BC

  • Ryann Rudderham University of Victoria


Bats are globally considered a critical component of healthy and functional ecosystems. Currently, bats face numerous threats including loss of natural habitat the fungal disease White Nose Syndrome, climate change, and persecution or exclusion by humans. Bat boxes are often viewed as an option to mitigate for loss of natural roosts in rapidly changing urban environments. This project was focused on bat box construction and installation in accordance with the province’s current best practices, to increase the availability of maternal roosting habitat in Mystic Vale. Previous participation in Denman Island’s 2022 bat box surveys were the inspiration for this project. Key observations from the Denman bat box surveys would inform the local bat box site selection and construction process. The Mystic Vale site was selected in collaboration with the University of Victoria’s RNS Program and another student’s RNS project.

Bat box construction was undertaken personally, following plans obtained from the Community Bat Programs of BC and the Bat Builder’s Handbook. Four bat boxes were completed in April 2023. Installation followed the provincial recommendation of a back-to-back bat box set-up on a single post, to create additional roosting space between and offer a wider range of internal microclimates. The first bat box post was installed April 25th, 2023, with one bat box oriented south and the other north. This process was repeated on May 8th, 2023, for the second bat box. Monitoring bat boxes for occupancy should commence for 5 years following installation, checking the ground underneath for guano accumulation and interior chambers for bat presence. Site maintenance should involve the removal of blackberry shrubs around the bat boxes, and the planting of native bat-friendly species. Inclusion of immediate surrounding areas should be considered for bat box installation, to create a network of bat boxes and increase connectivity. Future community engagement and education regarding bat ecology should be planned for the site if bats occupy the boxes.

Bat boxes may increase available roosts at a site, but do not ultimately address the mechanisms driving natural bat habitat loss. It’s recommended that UVic and the District of Oak Bay take formal actions to conserve natural bat habitat by conserving wildlife trees and restoring wetlands or riparian zones. Further, a community engagement campaign is recommended to be adopted by the university to encourage future bat habitat restoration.

Technical Papers