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Do Bats Migrate? Get The Facts

Three large brown bats flying across trees during the day.

Do bats migrate? Seems like a simple question. The simple answer is yes. However, it’s a little more complicated than that. What do you know about bats? 

If you’ve ever had one in your home or business, probably more than you want to know about bats. Do you suspect you may have a bat problem at your home or business? If so, contact CP Bat Mitigation for professional bat control advice.

Bats: The Myth

Thanks to Hollywood and horror movies, bat myths are everywhere. Contrary to popular belief, bats are beneficial to the ecosystem. Bats need food — a lot of food. 

If you’ve seen bats flying around, they are most likely on the hunt for food. They use a lot of energy in their daily activities, and insects make up a large percentage of their food. The need for nutrition, mainly bugs, causes certain behaviors in some bat species and specific behavior in other species.

Do Bats Hibernate?

Some bats hibernate, and some bats migrate. Then there are the bats that do both. And bats that live in warm climates, such as Florida, may stay in their homes year-round and neither hibernate nor migrate.

Let’s take a look at hibernation. Insects, in general, prefer warm weather, and when the weather turns cold, the insects disappear. This creates a problem for bats. They must either hunker down and hibernate or head for warmer climates where there is an abundance of food.

For a bat to hibernate, it has to slow down its metabolic rate dramatically. This involves a drastic drop in a bat’s heart rate and respiratory rate to survive without food for long periods of time.

During hibernation, a bat’s heart rate can go from a normal, 200-300 beats per minute to only about ten beats per minute. Depending on its surroundings, a bat’s body temperature can reach near freezing. A couple of examples of bat species that hibernate are the Little Brown Bat and the Lesser Horseshoe Bat.

Do Bats Migrate?

Yes, bats migrate. Just like other animals, not all bat species are the same. Many species migrate between their summer home and their winter home.

Besides searching for a more abundant food source, there are other reasons bats migrate. Some bats are seeking an ideal habitat for hibernating in winter. Some bats are looking for that special place to raise their young in the summer.

Hoary Bats

Most bat species that are tree roosting bats head south for the winter. One of these is the hoary bat. Hoary bats are the most widespread species of all bats in the Americas. Their range stretches from southeastern Canada to Hawaii.

In the summer months, hoary bats conceal themselves in the foliage of deciduous and coniferous trees. In the winter months, they spend their time hibernating in large colonies.

Hoary bats can fly as high as 8,000 feet and as fast as 13 miles an hour. Stopping at night on their long-distance migration in autumn and spring, they hunt moths, mosquitoes, and on occasion, another bat.

Mexican Free-Tailed Bat

The Mexican free-tailed bat likes to live in caves and other similar protected locations. One of these caves is the famous Carlsbad Caverns located in New Mexico. Other places they like to make their home are under bridges, in abandoned buildings, and throughout attics. Some roosts have been known to house over a million bats. 

These bats prefer to roost near water, allowing for a steady supply of food and insects, in addition to a water source. Free-tailed bats have a voracious appetite. They consume an enormous amount of moths and other insects. It is estimated that a large colony can consume over 250 tons of insects in a single night. That’s a lot of bugs.

The Lesser Long-Nosed Bat

According to National Geographic, lesser long-nosed bats “spend the winter in central Mexico then follow the scent of blooming flowers—often called the ‘nectar trail’—as far north as southern Arizona and New Mexico.” To reach the sweet nectar, this little three-inch-long bat has a tongue that is almost as long as its body. 

When migrating, thousands of these bats gather in roosts to rest and give birth. It is critical that temperature and humidity levels are just right for these sensitive little bats. For this reason, they will generally return to the same places year after year. Their roosts are typically found in abandoned mines and caves.

The lesser long-nosed bat plays an important part as a pollinator. They are one of 3 species in North America that feed on nectar, spreading pollen as they go. In northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, these bats help to maintain the desert ecosystems. 

This interesting little bat feeds on nectar and pollinates cacti and agave plants in these regions. For the blue agave plant, these bats are critical. Tequila is made from blue agave plants. This fact will play a crucial role in removing these bats from the endangered list.

Got It?

As you can see by these examples, bats do indeed migrate. However, not all bats migrate. Some species hibernate, and other species remain in the same area year-round. Like many other kinds of animals, different species have different behaviors. 

In addition, we’ve also learned that bats have gotten a bad reputation as some kind of vile animal that attacks people. In fact, bats are helpful and beneficial animals. 

Unfortunately, sometimes bats can be a nuisance to people and will roost where we don’t want them to.

If bats take up residence in your home or business, don’t panic. Contact the professionals at CP Bat Mitigation to resolve your bat problem, safely and humanely.

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