They say home is where the heart is. If that’s the case, you want your home to feel safe and secure. Winter, in particular, is important to that feeling of comfort. Besides making sure your house is warm, you have to prepare for bad weather which can lead to other issues such as power outages and flooding.
But there’s one factor you might overlook: animals outside. Where do they go when it gets cold? They need to feel safe and secure just like us, and perhaps they, too, have to care for their families.
Bats are one such species to think about. They are fascinating creatures that navigate by sound and thrive during the night. You may see them as a nuisance, but there are some key facts to learn about their wintertime habits–and knowing why they nest can help you prevent or remove them.
During the summer, female bats form maternity roosts. In the winter, they form hibernation roosts. That’s right–it’s a roost, not a nest.
Bats begin to hibernate from late fall until spring arrives.
Bats’ most common source of food are insects. But once winter rolls around and the temperature drops, the bugs go away, resulting in a scarce food supply. When this happens, bats hibernate. According to the National Park Service, bats hibernate to reduce their metabolic, heart, and respiratory rates. This allows them to survive for long periods without having to eat.
A typical heart rate for a bat is between 200-300 beats per minute. But during hibernation, that number can drop to 10 beats per minute. Bats have even been known to go several minutes without taking a breath.
The hibernation period for bats is also known as “torpor.” During this time, bats can significantly reduce the energy in their bodies by up to 98 percent. And they can remain in torpor for a few hours or up to a month, depending on how cold it is.
Bats require specific temperatures for hibernation, too. An ideal temperature for them is 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Too warm, and they will use up too much energy. Too cold, and they will freeze.
This is where they look for specific places with just the right temperature to hibernate.
Where do bats go in the winter? They’re always on the lookout for the perfect mix of temperature and humidity, so they’ll usually look at places like caves, mines, tunnels, and cellars. The place where bats hibernate is called hibernacula.
Do you own a warehouse? The ceiling inside is another great hang-out spot, particularly for a large colony of bats. Churches and barns have also become a popular destination.
Humans have taken away many habitats bats prefer, such as trees. Therefore, they now nest in man-made structures and on our property. Now they are forced to adapt by finding places near you.
Sometimes, they can be a little too close to home. Caves and mines are can be too wet for their liking so they’ll seek out someplace dry. A nice spot is that warm insulation inside your walls or in the attic.
Given the choice, they prefer walls. The inside of a wall preserves a consistent temperature that they like and they can easily crawl up and down the wall until they get their desired temperature. If there’s a temperature spike, they will scramble to find an area more comfortable. Unfortunately, this can also lead to bats entering your main living area or basement.
But how are they getting into your house in the first place? You’d be surprised how clever they can be.
You might not know it, but bats are crafty little suckers.
Bats can breach any area ⅜ of an inch or greater. We’re talking chimneys, loose tiles, vents, or even roof edges. The higher the better, from a bat’s perspective, because homeowners will pay less attention to points of entry not easily accessible for repair.
An important thing to remember: bats do not chew their way through structures. Once they sense a specific air current or temperature to their liking, they will slide their way through. These guys are like flying ninjas!
They can also fly through an open window by mistake. They don’t want to enter your house, but the warm air attracts them, so be sure to have screens on your windows.
Once you’ve taken care of the easy precautions, it’s important to then assess whether your house is a high risk for unwanted guests.
If you live in an area where the winters are colder, you’re more likely to encounter bats. An older house at least two stories high will be a target. If you haven’t done any repairs to the house in quite a while, bats will use that to their advantage to find any imperfection that can lead them inside.
They’re opportunistic that way.
And if you have a large attic, an entire bat colony may move in due to the amount of space available. Bats need each other to stay warm and prefer to nest together.
You also need to think about the area surrounding your house. Bats are attracted to dead, hollow trees. They also prefer areas with reliable water sources, so if you live near a pond, river or lake, be prepared.
It’s important to keep your house safe, and that includes securing it from any unwanted outside guests. Bats may not be the best-looking animals, but they want a place to call home, just like us. They mean you no harm.
If you have a better idea of when and where they hibernate and how they can enter your home, you’ll be better prepared to deal with the situation and learn about ways of preventing it in the future.
Is your house a target for bats? It is in your best interest to learn about these animals. Once informed, you can take preventative measures to ensure they never enter your house in the first place. Got a bat problem? Give us a call today.
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