Spooky season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than by exploring the sleep habits of Halloween’s most quintessential creatures—bats!
Although bats are a popular animal we associate with all things spooky, you may not know all that much about the way they snooze. So, with Halloween coming up, we’re here to share some fun sleep facts about these creatures!
Bats are nocturnal
OK—this is one sleep fact about bats that’s pretty well-known—but have you ever wondered why? A majority of bats are insectivores, meaning they mainly eat insects (and in other cases, fruit, nectar, and pollen). Using echolocation, they hunt at night to avoid predators, such as hawks and falcons, or competition from birds also hunting for insects.
Bats sleep for a very long time
Since bats are nocturnal, you may think they spend most of their night hunting for food. Turns out, they’re not awake for long. Bats feed for about two hours—and at most, twice in one night—and then return to their sleep spaces to rest. Talk about sleepyheads!
As winter comes and insects become sparse, bats hibernate to preserve their energy and food. In September, bats begin to store fat for the following months when they’ll be in torpor, and in October, they begin to find their hibernation sleep space.
Between November and May, bats enter hibernation, during which their body temperature lowers and their metabolism slows to preserve energy and the fat they’ve spent months storing. They’ll either slumber in solitude or in groups.
Bats sleep upside down
Many animals, including humans, lie down to go to sleep, while other animals, such as horses and flamingos, can sleep standing up. But bats sleep upside down!
Birds that can fly run and then thrust up from the ground to take flight or they have strong muscles in their wings to combat gravity. However, bats can’t run and their wings aren’t strong enough to easily lift them up.
Therefore, they sleep upside down so they can simply drop out of their sleep space and fly without having to generate energy. They’ve definitely taken “rolling out of bed” to a whole new level!
And lastly, they don’t always keep the same bedroom!
Although humans (and most animals) have a designated sleep space they return to every night, bats snooze in whatever space is convenient for them—or available!
According to the Bat Conservation Trust, the space in which a bat rests is called a roost, and they essentially need different roosting conditions at different points of the year that would best suit their needs.
All year long, they look for dark, cool, and quiet spaces such as caves. But when maternity season comes (May and June), pregnant females gather in groups to have their babies in warm, safe roosts like abandoned buildings and hollow trees.
For mating seasons (September and October), they search for big spaces like caves and underground sites that allow numerous bats to swarm into. For hibernation, they specifically look for cool spaces that can remain at the same temperature, such as veteran or hollow trees, or even man-made structures like old barns and even the brick walls of your house!
The bottom line: These mysterious and spooky creatures are really just tiny sleepyheads—and while their sleep habits may not work in our favor, how amazing is it to know more about our favorite Halloween animals?
How many hours do bats sleep?
Bats are nocturnal creatures, but they aren’t awake for long at night. They only feed for about two hours—and at most, twice in one night—and then return to their sleep spaces to rest. Therefore, they sleep for the majority of their day!
Do bats sleep in the same place every night?
Bats can sleep in the same space every night for a few months of the year. However, they change locations throughout the year depending on what kind of season it is for them—such as maternity, mating, and hibernation—and what living conditions best suit their needs.
What do bats do every night?
Because bats are nocturnal, they use the time at night to hunt for insects because it’s safe from predators and there’s less food competition. They feed approximately twice a night for two hours at a time.
Curious about how other animals snooze? Find out which animals sleep the least and most.