12th Annual Indiana Bat Festival
A Year in the Lives of Bats
September 15, 2018
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Winter can be a difficult time for bats in Indiana because they are small and do not do well when temperatures fall below zero. Some bats make use of hibernation to survive the winter. Hibernation is basically a form of deep sleep that conserves energy until temperatures become more favorable, at which point bats will wake up hungry for food. Other bats will migrate south to avoid cold temperatures, returning north when temperatures become more favorable.
As spring beings, many bats emerge from their hibernation sites to begin their migration back to their summering grounds. This can be an especially challenging time for bats—their fat reserves are low and insect prey are not yet abundant. Additionally, migration may be dangerous, exposing bats to inclement weather and predation. Many female bats will make the journey while pregnant, but won’t deliver their pups until the warmer summer months.
Fresh of the heels of spring migration, bats in the summer have a very busy schedule. Female adult bats have just a few months to give birth and raise their pups in their summer habitat. As a result, motherhood for summer bats is a busy time spent foraging for 2 (or more!), giving birth, nursing, and teaching their young how to fly. For the male adults, the summer is spent roosting by day and going out at night to forage on an array of insects in the summer night air. For pups, time is short. In the span of a single summer season, they will be born, learn to fly, and eventually, join their parents and relatives on their path back to the hibernaculum, where fall bats will mate and subsequently stay in for the winter.
Bats are somewhat restless during the autumn season. As temperatures start to drop, hibernating bats make their way back to winter caves or southern habitat–first year bats embark on their first migration whereas adults use auto-pilot–with fat and sperm storage in mind. Hibernating bats can feed voraciously while prey are still abundant, building as much brown fat as they can to make it through the long winter. During this feeding frenzy, adults also meet at cave entrances to mate and females store sperm for delayed implantation in the spring. For migrating bats, mating happen en route, and in the air. These bats will use torpor for several cold days and then come out to feed on warmer days until they reach their relatively warmer winter destinations.
The Indiana Bat Festival is a FREE event. Thanks to our sponsors for their support: