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The Important Question: Do Bats Hibernate?

The Important Question: Do Bats Hibernate?

Did you know that more than half of the bat species in the United States are endangered or in decline? These small mammals are extremely useful, often eating around 1200 mosquitoes in an hour. But when the winter months come, where do these creatures actually go? Read on as we ask the question, “do bats hibernate?”. 

And, despite being essential to ecosystems, bats are not something you want living in your home. If you think you have bats living in your space, contact Central Plains Bat Removal for rapid and safe bat removal.

Do Bats Hibernate or Migrate?

Do bats hibernate or migrate? A large group of bats flying at dusk.

Bats can hibernate or migrate depending upon the species and circumstances. Once settled, they can hibernate for up to six months over the winter months. If they migrate, they will look for somewhere that is warm and offers plenty of food. 

In some cases, bats may even do both. They can fly to warmer areas then enter stasis. It helps to know these patterns so you can avoid having them make their home on your property.

What Is Hibernation?

Do bats hibernate? Some bat species do. Here is a small bat preparing for hibernation in a small rock crevice.

Hibernation is a state in which animals reduce the needs of their body and enter a dormant state. They do this to sleep through long periods that would generally be extremely tough for them to survive in. Most animals hibernate in winter, as this is a time when food is scarce.

Animals do this by dropping their metabolic rate and heart rate. This drop in heart rate allows them to stay alive while doing very little other than sleeping. 

Torpor

Torpor is the name given to a bat’s hibernation state. Its regular heart rate is around 200 to 300 beats a minute. During hibernation, this drops to approximately ten beats per minute.

One of their most impressive abilities is to be endothermic. Endothermic is when the animal can control the temperature of the body to retain heat in cold climates.

Their body temperature can also drop to almost freezing, and they may go for minutes without breathing. On average, enough bodily functions will slow or shut down, so the bat is saving around 98% of its daily energy expenditure. 

States of torpor can last anywhere from a few hours to well over a month, depending on the bat species and climate it is in. Some may even remain like this for half a year. The bat will cycle between periods of torpor and activity, going from shutdown to the restoration of its functions and back again.

Bat colonies will choose hibernation locations based on a number of factors. These places are called hibernacula. Generally, they are chosen for their temperature and humidity. 

Migration

The other alternative to hibernation is migration. This is when animals move to a different, warmer climate during the winter months. In the US bats will migrate south to places where the temperature is more suitable and food sources in greater abundance. 

These migratory patterns are often some of the greatest natural spectacles on earth. Huge hoards of bats will migrate as one, creating swathes and patterns in the sky. 

When Do Bats Hibernate?

A small group of bats hanging upside down in a cave hibernating.

Bats will begin to hibernate around late autumn, in late October and early November. They will come out of hibernation in the spring, usually April at the latest. Bats can also come out of torpor during this for periods of around 24 hours, so don’t be surprised to see or hear them.

The reason they do this is that their body temperature needs to be restored quite regularly. The immune system is one of the functions that is severely limited while in torpor. By doing this, they can restore it to see them through an extended period. 

The last is the ideal temperature. Bats can regulate their own body temperature, but they do still need to avoid dropping below zero and freezing. Climates that are too hot may also take away too much of the energy they have been storing. 

Precautions to Take

A bat sleeping in a window of a house; hanging on the screen by a foot.

Bats are extremely helpful creatures. They will clear insects from around the home.

However, it is understandable you would not want them on in your house. They do make noise and may stop any building progress you had planned. It is easy to remove them with help, but it is much better to prevent them from roosting in the first place. 

Bats will get into very small gaps and cracks. Anywhere that offers protection, and some warmth will be their goal. Check the roof, walls, and fascia boards for any openings and seal them up. 

The fall is the most crucial month to do this. At the end of the period, bats will be looking for a hibernation site.

Getting Help

Someone holding a small bat in their hand.

Now you can answer the question, “do bats hibernate?” you should be able to manage them. Bat proof your property to prevent access, or if you already have them in the home, call in professional help. 

Your first stop should be Central Plains Bat Removal. We can help remove bats from your property safely and without harm to them or the home. Contact us to discuss your needs and clear your home starting today.

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