When you see bats flying at night, some people wonder, “when and where do bats sleep?” Some people may also wonder if they sleep at all! These are very good questions and ones we get asked all the time. There is so much that we are all still learning about bats, and not every bat is the same; there are multiple different bat species.
Bats Are Nocturnal
Bats are nocturnal which means they are active at night time. Bats will usually leave their daytime roosts at dusk. Bats love to sleep in trees, rock crevices, caves, and buildings – just about any place they can fit that’s dark. The darker and quieter the area is, the better it is for the bats.
When They Aren’t Sleeping…
When they do leave their roosts, bats will fly to a stream, pond or anywhere they can find water so they can dip their lower jaw into the water while still in flight and take a drink of water. This is normally one of the first things they do because they are rather thirsty and hungry as well. One bat species we know, the little brown bat emerges from their dark roosts two to three hours after dusk to feed. When they are done eating, bats will return to their roosts to sleep out the rest of the night and day hanging upside down.
A Consistent Routine
When it comes to bats, they are very much creatures of habit. They roost together in the same place year after year. And another thing you can count on is that bats will leave guano droppings on the entrance of their roost area every night as well. The only time that bats will not come back to their roosting spot is if it has been closed up, and they do not have access to it anymore or if there are predators that could get to them.
For the most part, bats are most active between the hours of dusk to dawn. As night time starts to approach, bats begin to increase their activity. They will start flying around their cave and then leave in search of food and water. When they are ready to start to feed they will typically feed for about an hour or two and then they will rest for a little bit before they will go back and feed again before daybreak. You might be wondering– when do bats go to roost? You most likely will catch a glimpse of bats leaving and returning to their roosts in the early mornings and around sunset. The daytime is usually spent inside a secluded shelter resting by hanging upside down, grooming, sleeping, and just talking with one another using sounds.
How They Sleep
When bats are ready to go to sleep, they are famous for hanging upside down. If we humans tried that, obviously we would fall on our heads. But for bats this adaption allows them to huddle closely together for protection against cold weather and predators. It enables individual bats to expend less energy when taking flight. Specially evolved feet lock onto an overhead surface and keep the bat in place without requiring any effort on their part. When bats wake up and are ready to take off, they simply drop into the air. Bats love to sleep in caves or anywhere that is dark and cool. Many bats share a sleeping location or roost with thousands or even millions of other bats. Can you imagine sharing your home where you sleep with that many people in one area? That would just be crazy!
Always Upside Down
It may seem odd, but bats roost or perch upside down for several reasons. Unlike birds, bats cannot launch their bodies into the air from the ground because their wings don’t produce enough lift to take off like a helicopter. If they could get a running start that would help them out, but because they are not able to run to gain enough speed for lift-off. Bats are left with no choice but to use their claws to climb to a high spot and let go so they can fall into flight. If for some reason a bat needs to escape quickly, hanging upside-down means they are already in the perfect position to spread their wings and fly away in case of danger when they are sleeping.
Seeing a Bat During the Day
As nocturnal animals, bats are rarely seen outside during the daytime. If a bat is away from its nest there is a greater likelihood that it is ill and should be avoided. Sick bats are likely to act abnormally. They may be unable to fly or might be lying on the ground as if injured. White nose syndrome is a specific illness that bats can contract. What exactly is that? It’s a fungus that can grow on the bat’s face and wings. It will slowly start to kill the bats when they have this type of fungus. It is starting to kill off more bats then they can keep up with, and it is one of the reasons as to why bats are starting to become extinct as well.
When you see a bat roosting during the day it just wants to hang out with its colony and does not want to be bothered. Most of the time a bat does not want to come into your home but if for some reason it does, normally it’s just trying to find a warm place to hang out at and start its hibernation. Once spring comes bats will wake up and leave so they can find some food to build their energy back up and get healthy enough to be able to take care of the pups or babies that are in the colony.
As we’ve said, bats want a dark cool place to sleep. They are extremely sensitive to the cold weather though so it can’t be too cold! That’s why you typically only see them out and about during the spring and summer months. If you have a bat in your home during the winter, the best thing to do is to call someone specialized to remove the bat without harming it. Depending on where the bat is located, you might not be able to get it removed until spring when it is safe to let it outside. Any bat removal professional will be able to evaluate the situation and safely get rid of the bat or find where it came from.