Yes, bats enter a state of hibernation during the winter months. Although, most bats migrate to find a more consistent food source or escape the cold weather conditions of their natural habitat. They may return once the weather becomes warmer.
If bats typically reside in your home in any other season and disappear during the late autumn and winter months, they might be migrating instead of hibernating.
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Do Bats Hibernate in the Winter?
As with many other mammals, like ground squirrels and woodchucks, bats hibernate over the winter. They can actually hibernate for months at a time, rousing themselves only when the climate starts to warm up.
True hibernators experience significant depression in their body temperature, heart rate, and metabolic rate during the cooler months. Bats are not exempt from this, as their body temperature can go as low as 68°F (20°C) in their deep sleep state.
Bats enter this period of prolonged rest, also known as torpor, to conserve energy. They use the fat stores accumulated over the warmer months to sustain themselves until spring arrives.
They may sporadically wake themselves up every few weeks to bring their temperature back to normal. But for the most part, they remain in hibernation for the duration of the winter months.
What Do Bats Do When They Hibernate?
As the temperature drops, bats search for a haven to spend the winter. This temporary hibernation spot is called a hibernacula.
A hibernacula must be between 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the bats not to freeze over or expend too much energy warming up. When they find this ideal spot, they hunker down and enter hibernation.
In this state of hibernation (or torpor), a bat’s heart rate can go as low as 10 BPM from the usual 200-300 BPM. As a testament to their energy-conserving capabilities, certain species, like the little brown bat, can go half a year without needing to wake up from their hibernating state.
Some species of bats, like big brown bats, rouse themselves awake for a few hours every few weeks. They could flap their wings or make tiny adjustments to their position during this time.
Their body temperature also normalizes for a short while. Other species of hibernating bats wake up for an even longer time, hunting for insects and grub for sustenance.
They may even wander into your basement or garage during this time. However, this can be troublesome as these animals are carrier for many diseases and viruses that are best avoided.
Do Bats Leave Your House in the Winter?
In temperate regions like Florida and Texas, bats may stay at their roosting sites all year round, including your property. They may even mate during the winter months in these spaces since they prefer having their babies in these established habitats.
But for other parts of the United States, where the winters tend to be harsh and insects few and far between, bats may leave houses that aren’t adequately insulated against the cold.
That said, not all bats migrate. Some may stay put and enter into a state of hibernation instead. A few bat species employ both strategies—migrating between a summer home and a winter home.
Do Bats Migrate?
Yes, some bats migrate. Bats can be found in various climate zones, from forests and wetlands to human settlements.
If the climate conditions are unfavorable, bats may seek distant opportunities to warm themselves and access a rich food source in the coming winter months.
Migratory species can travel hundreds of miles to find a good hibernation spot or to escape the colder winter months. If you’ve ever wondered where bats go in the winter, some bat species may travel far south to escape the frigid cold in the northernmost regions of North America.
They’ll look for spots to reside in like:
Migrations may be temporary relief for homeowners dealing with a bat invasion. However, these animals always return to their original lodging once conditions are favorable again.
Take preventive measures to keep bats from roosting in and around your home, including:
- Naphthalene balls
These strong-smelling deterrents usually do the trick ward off these animals— though you’ll have to replenish them weekly for maximum effect.