What is hibernation?
Hibernation is a state of inactivity which is further characterized by low body temperature, slow breathing, reduced heart rate and low metabolic rate. Hibernation of bats is usually known as torpor which is a state of idleness but not similar to sleep. It’s a survival strategy which help the animals to fight extreme cold weather conditions. During this period, movement is very limited and animals usually isolate themselves at a particular area until the weather conditions are in their favour.
Feeding during hibernation
Food plays a significant role in the survival of every living organism. How do these hibernating animals get access to their food in a state of dormancy? In order to prevent themselves during starvation the hibernating animals store a large volume of fats in their bodies even before the need arises and this help them to survive during the extreme periods of hunger in hibernation.
Hibernation and bats
Bats do hibernate. But their hibernation is not similar to other animals such as groundhogs who prefer sleeping. Bats prefer the state of torpor. However, hibernation is not adopted as a method of survival by all bats. Some bats also choose to migrate to warmer areas for survival.
The hibernation calendar for bats consist of six months. It usually takes place between the months of October and March. During this season bats are out of motion in their respective environments.
The hibernating bats build up their fat reserves during the month of October and they also try to locate a hibernating spot. November marks the beginning of the process of torpor. During this time period, bats reduce their body temperature and slow down their metabolic rate. In this way they maintain more energy when food is scarce.
In December the weather usually gets extremely cold due to which bats become invisible in the environment. They retire to their roosting spots which are those areas where there is minimum interference such as caves, abandoned building or old tree trunks.
Bats are at the peak of hibernation in January. By this time, they are weak and are unable to do any form of work. When February approached bats become short of their energy supply. The months also marks the ending of winter season therefore bats are able to exit the roosting spots to search for food. However, their search is limited to shorter distance only.
The month of March puts an end to the hibernation process. The weather gets warmer which allows the bats to leave their roosting spots and cover largte distances as well.