Bats may conjure images of Dracula and other fictional blood-sucking creatures, but in truth, these nocturnal mammals play a crucial role in many ecosystems. From scavenging for food to fertilizing plants, bats help make our world more sustainable.
While a few species of bat are diurnal, most hunt for their prey at night and sleep through the day. This behavior links to a number of factors, including their heightened sensory abilities at night and shifts in cues that mark the changing of the day and night.
Whether tucked safely away in the crevices of a cave or nestled in a tree, bats like to find places that offer shelter and safety from predators. That’s why they are often found huddled in homes and other buildings during the winter. In the fall, as temperatures begin to drop, bats roost in their hibernaculum or seek out warm places for hibernation, such as caves, mines, and rock crevices.
As the weather turns cold, bats may also seek out warmer and drier locations in which to spend the winter, such as a human attic or barn. They can be particularly attracted to woodpiles, which provide the warmth and moisture they need for hibernation.
When a bat is discovered in a house, extra caution should be taken to contain it and prevent exposure to rabies. Bats are a high-risk rabies species and must be kept from children or anyone who is intoxicated or inexperienced with handling bats. If a bat is discovered in your home, call your local health department immediately for advice.