Do Bats Hibernate?

A bat's hibernation is actually called a state of torpor, and is not as deep a sleep. Hibernation is a survival strategy adopted by animals to remain alive during extreme cold weather. During this period, the animal’s movement is partially or completely ruled out. They become totally or partially inert and they retire to a pre-planned spot or area until the cold winter period elapses.

In order to survive the rigors of hibernation and not starve to death, animals store a huge volume of fat in their bodies ahead of time that can last them all through the hibernating period.

So, do bats hibernate? Yes, bats do hibernate, but it's not the same kind of deep sleep that other animals like groundhogs do. It's called a state of torpor. However, not all kinds of bats hibernate. While some bats do, other bats simply migrate.

Bats hibernate in most climes between the months of October and March. This means that they are out of circulation in those climates for a total of six months in a calendar year.

In the month of October, hibernating bats begin to build up their fat reserves; they search for and identify suitable hibernating sites and they prepare them. By November, they commence the process of torpor. Torpor is characterized by a state of decreased physical activity in animals. They tactically reduce their body temperature and metabolic rate. This helps them to retain more energy when food for when food becomes scarce.

By the third month of December when the winter starts biting hard, the bats can no longer be seen in the environment. They simply retire to their pre-arranged roost in groups. Such places are areas with little or no interference like abandoned buildings, old tree trunks or caves.

Four months into their hibernating exercise in the month of January, the bat is at the peak of hibernation. Now its body temperature is low and breathing becomes slower, it is weak and does almost nothing.

By February, the bats are running out of stored fat. But luckily, the winter is winding up gradually. They leave their roost at night when it is a bit warm. They would go out briefly in search of food and water, but they do not go far away from their roost.

The hibernation process ends in March, when summer is at hand and the cold is all but gone. Then bats begin to venture out of their roosts with increasing signs of activity. Now they can go as far away as they want as the weather gets warmer day after day.

There is more to hibernation, especially that of the bat. Most bats migrate from the north to the south. This is peculiar with those in environments nearer to the south. Some of them turn carnivores while many do contract the dreaded White Nose Syndrome.

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Wildlife Education - Information and Advice for the Safe Removal of Bats from Attics