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4 Ways Bats Survive Winter: Hibernation Migration Staying Put and More

Bats’ Winter Behaviors: Hibernate, Migrate, or Stay Put

As winter approaches, many animals begin to adapt to the changing conditions, including bats. These nocturnal creatures pose a mystery to many due to their nighttime activities and flying abilities.

But when it comes to the winter season, their behaviors become even more peculiar. In this article, we will explore different bat behaviors during winter, including hibernation, migration, and staying put.

Hibernation and Torpor

During winter, some bat species hibernate or undergo torpor to survive the harsh conditions. When hibernating, bats lower their body temperatures to conserve energy.

Their heart rates also drop to as low as ten beats per minute. This process reduces their metabolic activity, decreasing their demand for food.

Many people assume that bats hibernate in caves, and while this is true for some bats, others use mines, rock formations, tree hollows, warehouses, barns, attics, basements, and other structures as their hibernation locations. While hibernating, it is essential to their survival that they have a stable environment, free of bright lights or disturbances.

Big Brown Bat

The big brown bat is a common species in North America, weighing up to 40 grams and with a wingspan of over 30cm. During the winter, they hibernate in warm places such as attics, barns, and mines.

Because of their larger size, these bats require more energy and will often hold hibernation locations with a steady food source.

Little Brown Bat

The little brown bat is another common North American species, weighing up to 8 grams with a wingspan of 25cm. They are known for their long lifespan, with some individuals living up to 30 years.

During the winter, they rely on hibernation as their behavior to survive. Some individuals migrate to warmer climates to hibernate, while others move to nearby caves, rock formations, or tree hollows.

Northern Long-Eared Bat

The northern long-eared bat is a comparatively new species. They have unusual ears that can be longer than their body, which helps them to capture prey in the dark.

This species often co-hibernates, which means that rather than hibernating alone, they group together, finding a common location to spend the winter. They weigh up to 10g and have a wingspan of up to 22cm.

Eastern Pipistrelle (Tri-Colored Bat)

The eastern pipistrelle is a small bat species, weighing as little as 4 grams and with a wingspan of up to 24cm. They are known for their tricolored fur, which ranges from light brown to red and is often divided by a light-colored band.

During winter, they hibernate in locations such as caves, mines, and rock formations. The temperature of their hibernation location is crucial to their survival.

They prefer it to be between 4-10C.


While some bat species hibernate, others rely on migration to survive winter. Migratory bats move to warmer climates where they can find food and shelter.

The behavior is less common than hibernation and is usually due to the food source being scarce in their location.

Staying Put

A small percentage of bat species stays put during the winter season. These bats maintain their nocturnal activities, searching for food and shelter through an area that remains consistent throughout the year.


Bats display a range of different behaviors during the winter season to survive the harsh conditions. Hibernation, migration, and staying put are all primary behaviors displayed by different species.

Understanding these behaviors helps us to recognize bats’ importance in our ecosystem, and why it is essential to protect habitats that provide structures for hibernation or the availability of food sources. Through more awareness and conservation efforts, the bat population can continually thrive.

Bats That Migrate During Winter:

Hoary Bats,

Little Brown Bats,

Eastern Red Bats, and

Silver Haired Bats

While many bats hibernate or use torpor to survive the winter season, some species rely on migration to find food and warmth. In this article, we will explore the migratory behaviors of four bat species: Hoary bats, Little Brown bats, Eastern Red bats, and Silver Haired bats.

Hoary Bats

One of the larger bat species found in North America, the Hoary Bat features a distinctive coloring of orange-brown fur and white-tipped hairs. In the summer, they’re found all around North America, from Alaska to Mexico, and across to the East Coast.

However, during the winter season, they prefer to winter farther south, and will often migrate to find their preferred wintering regions. As the temperatures drop, they start to move towards warmer weather.

They can be found in Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. They are also known to migrate in large flocks and travel for long distances.

Little Brown Bats

Little Brown Bats have a summer habitat location ranging from Alaska to Georgia, eastern Canada to the Dakotas. During the winter, they migrate to escape the cold northern regions, seeking warmer conditions in the southern portions of the United States or even down into Mexico.

They have the ability to fly at even below freezing temperatures and are sometimes spotted in other countries, such as Cuba or Hawaii. While some individuals remain in their hibernation spots for the winter, others migrate south in search of food sources.

The southward journey can be long, with bats traveling up to 1600 kilometers to reach their destination.

Eastern Red Bats

The Eastern Red Bat has a unique coloring, featuring shades of red, cinnamon, and orange with flecks of white on its fur. Red bats migrate to warmer regions, usually in the southern United States, Central America, or Mexico.

In some cases, they will use hibernation during their migration to avoid having to fight against cold temperatures. The fall migration south can start as early as August, and experts believe that migration distances might be connected to the need for resources, such as the availability of fruiting trees.

Silver Haired Bats

Although they are not regularly seen by humans,

Silver Haired Bats are abundant throughout forests in North America. Their preferred habitat is in the forests, but when winter approaches, they move to find warmer climates.

The species migrates within North America, moving from their summer home in the northern United States and Canada to more southern climates where the temperatures are milder. The weight of these bats is around 10 grams, and they can travel up to 3500 kilometers on their journey.


In summary, while hibernation is the most common way for bats to survive the winter, migration also plays an essential role in some species.

Hoary Bats,

Little Brown Bats,

Eastern Red Bats, and

Silver Haired Bats are examples of migratory bat species that can fly long distances to find food and warmer climates. By studying the migratory patterns of these bats, we can gain a deeper understanding of the complex behaviors and adaptations that help bats to survive and thrive in the face of different environmental challenges.

Overall, this article delved into the wintertime behaviors of bats, highlighting the diversity of their responses to harsh conditions. While the idea of hibernation comes to mind when thinking about how bats survive winter, it’s essential to understand that some species rely on migration or staying put in their habitats to endure the colder season.

As former misunderstood creatures, the significant impact of bats to our ecosystem is becoming better understood, and their adaptability to different environments only emphasizes their significance. By providing habitat protection and conservation efforts for bats, we can promote their survival and ensure our ecosystem’s equilibrium.

Through this article, we hope to have provided a level of insight into the importance of these interesting creatures and their wintertime behaviors.

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