Bats’ Natural Habitat
The bats’ roosting sites are more varied than what most people think. It is common for people to assume that they only live in caves, but they don’t. They live in different locations both man-made and natural environment.
Many assume that bats naturally live in caves. However, only a small percentage of their population lives in these places. Most of these are micro-bat species. In caves, they would often dwell on small cracks and crevices, overhangs, extensive limestone caverns, piles, boulders or rocks.
Bats are fond of caves because they can stay protected inside throughout the day from different kinds of predators. Also, the temperature inside, specifically larger caves, is more stable. Thus, allowing bats to use as little energy as possible in adjusting their body temperature.
A large portion of bats and the mega-bat species can easily find their roosting areas within native forests or those dense rainforests. Mega-bats are the ones with the simplest roosts as they hang freely on tree branches without protection from predators or weather.
With large flying-foxes, they roost in large bat colonies. Since they are in large groups, they get to protect each other from predators. Species like Eastern tube-nosed and Blossom bats can be found in smaller groups. They are able to camouflage with their surroundings, which is their defence mechanism against predators.
With the mega-bats species, they are usually located near freshwater sources like creek, wetland, river, or lake and are frequently in tall trees. However, little red flying foxes are located in low trees like mangroves while Larger Grey and Black-Headed Flying Foxes are found a bit higher in surrounding trees.
Though flying-foxes are ideally located far from human activities, there are times when human developments are the ones disturbing the natural habitats of the bats. Also, small vegetation in urban development attracts these bats, which makes residents consider them as a nuisance.
Bats become a problem when the colony size has grown. It doesn’t only affect the residents but also causes damage to the trees. This is because of the weight of too many bats in every branch. As long as there is an abundant food source, their population will grow continuously.
Micro-bats that are dwelling in forests will also live under loose tree bark or tree hollows. Most of the time, females are the ones utilizing these hollows while they are nursing their young since it can provide extra space and protection from nearby predators.
Despite active bat conservation efforts, anyone will agree that the decrease in native forests forces micro-bats to utilize buildings, structures, and houses as roost sites. Obvious signs that bats live in certain structures, buildings, or in your house is the ammonia-like smell and droppings. Bats living in the roof won’t cause any danger. Usually, they will stay there for a certain period of time, as they will continue travelling for either foraging or mating purposes.
Why Bats are Also Found in Areas Where Humans Are
Being highly adaptable, there are only several places where bats don’t reside. As mentioned, they are typically found in caves and in areas where they can access water. You will rarely find them in small groups, as they find it easy to protect themselves from predators when they are together. Also, the abundance of the food source is a major factor why they’ll stay at a certain location.
Any areas that are free from any kind of predators can turn into bat houses and can be a place to colonize. Places with little to no human disturbance are also ideal areas for these mammal species to live and make their population grow. If there are large trees in certain areas, bats will roost on these trees and stay well-hidden on the full branches along with the leaves. It allows them to live on the tree for as long as they want while staying away from a wide range of predators in the areas.
How Bats are Affecting Residents in Urban Areas
Many are wondering why and how these small mammals live in their homes. Due to the decrease in forests, bats find it difficult to stay in their natural roosting sites.
Given that trees in the wild are becoming scarce, there are bats that are starting to take trees in wildlife locations and public areas. These locations are usually visited by humans to go stargazing, camping, bird watching and other outdoor events.
Structures like houses and buildings are also safe and dark spots for bats to stay. It is the reason why sometimes residents call wildlife removal services once they find out that bats are staying in their attic or chimney. Whether it is an abandoned building, bats will continue coming back after searching for food at night and rest in the place as long as bats consider it as their safe place.
As a matter of fact, they will usually roost at the same exact area in the colony whenever they are about to rest. Staying in the building or structure for a long time, they will make structural changes to conform to their needs. Say, for example, females. When pregnant, they will create maternity colonies where they can huddle to keep themselves warm and at the same time protect their offspring once they are born.
Why Bats Hang Upside Down and Other Common Behaviours
The reason why bats are hanging upside down is that they are able to hide from their predators easier. This position also allows them to take off easily. Unlike birds, bats have small legs for them to run before they take off.
They usually look for internal locations in the winter months to hibernate. These locations give them the ease to rest for at least six months. They will not stay out in the open to prevent their bodies from getting cold.
Being small mammals, they make a huge colony for hibernation. They huddle together to keep everyone warm. It is believed that they do this not because they want to socialize but because it is how they survive throughout the cold period. Hence, making it a wrong decision to disturb hibernating bats as there will be a large number that will emerge.It is also rare to see them flying in the rain as their echolocation is affected during these times. They will wait for the rain to stop before they head back out to look for food. Though they can still go out while raining, it only decreases the chance of finding food successfully.
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