Go Batty For Bats This Halloween!
Bolton Green Umbrella | Saturday 05 October 2019 | 0 Comments
It’s almost that spooky time of year again! October 31st is fast approaching, so its time to stock up on sweets for the trick-or-treaters, pick out the creepiest costume you can find, and hone your pumpkin-carving skills! Some of us might even go all out and decorate the house with plastic spiders, cotton wool cobwebs and rubber bats!
But did you know that Halloween is more like the end of Valentine’s Day for real bats? The mating season for many UK species typically begins in August and can continue through to mid-October. After this, bats start accumulating fat reserves and searching for hibernation sites in order to survive over winter, which they spend in a state known as torpor. This is almost like a very deep sleep, where bats lower their body temperature and metabolic rate so as not to burn large amounts of energy.
Unfortunately, bat species worldwide are declining for a variety of reasons. Many of their natural habitats are being destroyed on a daily basis, largely due to land development and climate change. Food sources that insectivorous bats rely on have become depleted as increasing amounts of pesticide are used in agriculture. Devastating diseases such as white-nose syndrome are also continuing to spread across North America and Canada, and a cure has yet to be found. Life certainly isn't easy for the world's only flying mammal.
But it’s not all bad news. Some of our UK species may well be making a comeback despite these issues. Greater Horseshoe bat colonies, usually only found in the west of England and southern areas of Wales, were recently discovered in Kent, an area that this species hasn’t be known inhabited for over 115 years! An increased public awareness about the importance bats within our ecosystems has seen support for and participation in bat conservation groups rise in recent years, and even local authorities are starting to become more involved in protecting the welfare of these incredible creatures; Worcestershire County Council recently sanctioned plans to install bat-friendly street lighting throughout their borough, the first scheme of its kind within the UK. So thankfully, it seems there is still hope for the future.
If you are interested in bats and would like to see them out on the wing in the wild before they disappear for the winter, why not go to a local bat walk? They are usually free to attend, and most are family-friendly too. So don’t miss out - keep an eye on our events page for any upcoming walks near you!
For more information on bats and to find our how you can support bat conservation, please visit the Bat Conservation Trust website.
Photo credit: Janice Whittington, People's Trust for Endangered Species
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