Where will bats reside during the winter?
Animals, as much as humans, love to keep safe from harsh weather. The winter weather is harsh and particularly so on animals as they mostly do not have adequate shelter during the winter months.
What time of the year do bats hibernate?
Just before winter each year, bats begin to prepare for hibernation. Females form maternity roosts during the summer months and then during the winter, they form hibernation roosts. Normally, many bat species feed on insects but the insect population soon starts to decline due to lowering temperatures. This is an indication for the bats to go into hibernation as food soon becomes scarce.
During hibernation, also known as torpor, bats are able to slow down their heart rate to only a few beats per minute. This in turn slows down their metabolism, ensuring that they survive the period of hibernation without needing to eat. A key factor in ensuring that bats survive hibernation is temperature. If the temperature of the environment where the bat is hibernating is too low, it may freeze to death during the torpor period. If it is in turn too high, it will make the bat consume energy much faster meaning that it would need food before the winter is over and the food may not be available. Therefore, bats always look for an environment where the temperature is optimized for hibernation.
Where do bats hibernate?
Caves provide natural shelter for bats during the winter months. It is well protected from the winter outside and not too warm and moreover, there are minimal interruptions. Many bats therefore like to roost in caves. They may roost in a cave only during winter, returning every year or they may permanently live in the cave all year long.
It is not uncommon to find bats in attics, chimneys, and even basements of homes during the winter months. The temperature of the house, much like what they desire, is optimized to make sure that they are not too warm or too cold. Many bats live in between walls in attics and ceilings and may roost there throughout the winter.
- Abandoned buildings and mines
Many abandoned buildings and mines are also home to bats during the winter as they make use of the opportunity that it is abandoned to hibernate there. They can hang from ceilings or use secluded rooms as roost sites for hibernation. Once winter is over, they may decide to remain in the building or leave to another location.
- Migration before hibernation
Many bat species migrate from one location to another once the temperature starts to drop. Many species return to their usual site of hibernation while many go in search of new ones. Many species that have previously migrated to raise their young or forage for food may also come back to their hibernation location. This back and forth may continue throughout the bat’s lifespan. Other species may spend all of their lives in one location; feeding, hibernating, and raising their young in the same place.