October 29, 2012
SALEM, Ore.— An indelible part of Halloween, bats are everywhere at this time of year. Their black silhouettes adorn everything from candy bags to costumes to haunted houses, but it’s unlikely you’ll see many real bats during the witching hours of fall and winter. They are getting ready for winter by storing up fat and migrating to over-wintering sites or hibernating in rock crevices, large trees, caves and buildings to wait for spring.
“In Oregon, bats are most visible at dusk in the summer when they are out hunting for mosquitoes and other insects,” said Susan Barnes, ODFW Conservation Biologist. “By this time of year, they are hibernating or migrating to hibernation sites.”
According to Barnes, one of the times bats are most vulnerable is during hibernation, and the most important thing people can do is leave them alone. Disturbing bats during hibernation is especially harmful because it causes them to use valuable fat reserves, decreasing their chance of survival. This is especially important with the spread of white-nose syndrome, a disease that is devastating bat populations across the nation.
“Halloween is a great time to talk about bats,” said Barnes. “Despite their reputation, they aren’t really scary.”
Facts about Oregon’s Bats
In an effort to debunk myths about bats and help Oregonians learn about the state’s bat species, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff have produced a fact sheet. Designed for kids, it provides a description and photograph of each of Oregon’s 15 bat species and some ideas of how people can help. The flyer, Batty for Bats, is available for download on ODFW’s website.
- Oregon’s bats eat only insects. An adult bat can eat about 1,000 insects in an hour!
- Bats hang upside down because it gives them an ideal position for take-off.
- Bats can fly 20 to 30 miles an hour and travel more than 100 miles a night.
- Bats are the only flying mammal.
- Disease, habitat loss and development are threatening the survival of bats around the world.
- Eight of Oregon’s 15 bats are identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy as species in need of help.
- Scientists do not believe white-nose syndrome has arrived in Oregon.
Additional information about “Living with Bats” is available on the ODFW website.
To learn about distribution, habitat and conservation actions that will help bats, see the Summaries of Strategy Species section of the Oregon Conservation Strategy on ODFW’s website.
Susan Barnes, ODFW Conservation Biologist, (971) 673-6010
Meg Kenagy, ODFW Conservation Strategy Communications Coordinator, (503) 947-6021