a colony of migratory bats flying across the sky

Do Bats Migrate?

During the winter months, you may notice that you no longer see bats flying around in the evenings. You might wonder where they go – do bats migrate or hibernate? They do both! Some bats migrate great distances while others migrate smaller distances to a hibernation site (hibernaculum), and some species don’t migrate at all but stay in the same location all year round. Where bats live during winter depends on their species and their location. 

a colony of Mexican free-tailed bats

Which Bats Migrate? 

Migratory Bats in the US include:

Hoary Bats – Hoary Bats are found widely across the states, but during the winter, they migrate thousands of miles from Northern States down to Northern Mexico and coastal areas. 

a hoary bat which will migrate during winter

Silver-Haired Bats – These are found across North America and Canada during Summer. However, they migrate South to winter in warmer areas such as Texas and Mexico.

a silver-haired bat - these bats migrate in winter

Red Bats – Migrate from North America to the Southern states such as Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, and Mexico.

a red-haired bat which will migrate in winter

Mexican Free-Tails – Some species migrate into Southern California, and other colonies migrate as far as South Texas and Mexico. 

a mexican free-tailed bat

When does bat migration start?

Most migratory birds leave in the fall, from around August to October. Therefore, the bats are settled in their new roosts by winter. They stay in their winter migration roost until Springtime (March-May), when rising temperatures prompt them to migrate northward again. 

Why do bats migrate?

Simply put, it’s to survive. For many bats, insects like mosquitos and moths are their primary food source. So, in winter, when insects are scarce and cold temperatures make foraging difficult, bats either migrate to warmer climates where insects are plentiful or go into hibernation to survive.

Moths flying at night

How do bats migrate long distances without getting lost?

How bats manage to find their way during migration is something that is still being researched and continues to intrigue ecologists. Bats are known to use echolocation for navigating short distances, but their long-term navigational techniques are yet to be discovered. Research has indicated that young bats embarking on their first migration do not inherently know the direction of flight and must learn it. In addition, studies have revealed that bats use the setting sun to re-calibrate their internal compass. Nevertheless, exactly how bats navigate over great distances remains largely a mystery.

How bat migration affects homeowners

Depending on their location, homeowners may observe varying amounts of bat activity during winter. If you live in the Southern States, you may see more bats around during this time of year and should be alert to signs of bats in your home. Signs of a bat colony in your home include scratching/rustling sounds, guano (bat droppings) accumulation, and oily stains near a small hole – the bats’ entry point. 

To deter bats from entering your home, we recommend thoroughly inspecting your property to identify any possible entry points and properly seal these up. 

Have bats left North America for the Winter?

During the winter season in the Northern States, we are unlikely to see bats flying around in the evenings. However, this doesn’t mean that bats are not present. Bat colonies look for quiet, undisturbed places to roost for the hibernation season, and with more and more natural habitats being destroyed, they are sometimes found roosting in attics. Therefore, at this time of year, we still need to be alert to signs of bats in our homes. Hibernating bats are usually quiet but may awake from torpor several times during hibernation, so you may hear some scratching noises.

a sleeping bat hanging off a stick

Can you remove a bat colony from your home in winter?

In many states, it is illegal to disturb hibernating bats. Disturbing bats in a state of torpor can harm them; they may even die due to their poor energy reserves during this time. So, it’s essential to research the laws surrounding bat removal in your state. Your local residential bat removal company will be familiar with the bat species in your area and fully informed of laws regarding bat removal in your state.

If you are concerned that you may have bats roosting in your home, Get Bats Out, residential bat removal specialists, can help you navigate the winter bat migration/hibernation season and can help restore your home to a safe living environment for you and your family as soon as possible. Contact us today if you need advice about bats. 

a bat removal specialist inspecting a roof

Learn more

Your Local Bat Removal Expert,

Michael Koski

Get Bats Out Owner and President Michael Koski

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  • Altha offenburger

    February 16, 2024 | Reply

    Do you work in Iowa?

    • Tori Bruce

      February 21, 2024 | Reply

      Yes, we do. Please call our customer service number if you'd like more information. 877-264-2287

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