Want to Work With Wildlife?
B at biologist, Jordi Segers has been hard at work trying to save the bat species here in Canada. He’s also been busy trying to debunk some awful myths about these small mammals. Want to follow in his footsteps? Keep reading!
W: What exactly does a chiropterologist do?
JS: Chiropterologist is just a fancy term for a biologist who specializes in bats. Bat biologists can have many specializations, but what we all have in common is that we are extremely passionate about bat conservation and understanding how they live and how we can make sure we have healthy bat populations all over the world.
W: What’s the best thing about being a bat biologist?
JS: Bats are super interesting animals. Because they are nocturnal (being awake at night) and make sounds that humans can’t hear (echolocation, a natural sonar) they are very hard to study. The cool thing about being a bat biologist is that I sometimes get to be among the first people to learn something new about bats and use this knowledge to make a difference for their survival.
W: When did you first have an interest in bats?
JS: I have always been interested in all wildlife, but my interest in bats specifically didn’t start until I began university and got to see wild bats up close. Seeing them like that showed me that every little bat has its own big personality.
W: I don’t think a lot of people think of bats that way. Honestly bats don’t always have the best reputation. Why do you think that is?
JS: People don’t like what they don’t understand. Vampire movies and other scary movies have contributed a lot to the misunderstandings that people have of bats. Their bad reputation is not doing them any good either. Many people would rather see them gone because they don’t know the good things bats do. But anybody who becomes more educated about bats will start to appreciate them more.
W: What threats are bats dealing with in Canada?
JS: Habitat destruction, collisions with wind turbines, disturbance during hibernation and much more. The biggest threat to bats in Canada is a disease called white-nose syndrome. It affects bats in the winter. At this time bats need to hibernate so they don’t go hungry. White-nose syndrome is a disease that wakes bats up from their winter hibernation. When they wake up too often in winter they will get hungry and starve to death. White-nose syndrome is killing millions of bats, and some species are in really serious trouble.
W: White nose syndrome seems to still be spreading. Do you think we’re on the brink of finding the cure? Or are you worried that it’s going to wipe them out entirely?
JS: Many smart researchers are trying to find ways to help bats survive. Fortunately not all bats are dying from white-nose syndrome. I am not sure we will find a true cure, but a combination of different treatments could help more bats survive.
W: I know a lot of kids want to do something to help bats. Do you have any tips or suggestions?
JS: Convince your parents to put up a bat house in your yard to give bats a safe place to live. You can also plant native flowers in your yard to attract insects: a food source for bats. And don’t forget to spread the word about bats — tell all your friends how cool and important bats are.
W: If one of our WILD readers wanted to become a bat biologist when they grow up, what advice would you have for them?
JS: Read about bats so that you know a lot about them. In school, study biology or ask your teacher to help you learn about bats. Your teacher can even invite a local bat biologist like me to visit your school and teach you about bats.