Invisible Dust

London | Monday 23 July
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Bats thrive in the cold weather


18/12/2011

echolocation (© S Dalton/ Bat Conservation Trust)

Echolocation (© S Dalton/ Bat Conservation Trust)

The prospect of another cold winter will be good for bats as it will help them to hibernate properly.

The annual survey run by British Waterways the organisation, which manages canals, rivers and docks around Britain, recorded a rise in bat numbers this year compared with last year, putting them among the top 10 creatures recorded on waterways by members of the public.

Dr Mark Robinson, British Waterways’ national ecologist, says:

“Hibernating then allows them to save all this energy for the long winter months when there is little food about.

“Longer autumns and warm winters trick bats into thinking there are insects around and they use up valuable energy looking for them, thus risking potential starvation.”

But while another cold winter will be good for bats and other hibernating species such as hedgehogs, species such as kingfishers may struggle due to the difficulty in finding food in frozen conditions.

Robinson said: “Bats are a traditional star of Halloween and it’s no coincidence that we think of them hiding out in cold, dark and undisturbed places.

“Bats need a consistently cold place of -5C to hibernate. This allows them to slow their metabolism right down, meaning these astonishing creatures take much less frequent breaths and survive on only a few heartbeats a minute.”

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