Bats are nocturnal animals. This means that they sleep during the day and are awake at night. But why do bats sleep during the day? There are several reasons why this might be the case, but instead of looking at why they sleep during the day, a better question is, why do bats prefer the night?
In this blog post, we will explore some of the most common reasons why bats might choose to sleep during the daytime!
Bats Aren’t the Best Flyers
If you’ve ever seen a bat flying through the air, you might notice that it’s not the most graceful. They may be the only mammal that can fly, but they’re certainly not one of the best flyers out there. This inability to fly with agility and control makes them extremely vulnerable to predators.
Yes, they’re bats, but larger, more agile birds of prey like eagles, hawks, and falcons would only see them as a quick and easy meal even among the safety of a flock.
Because of this, it’s not uncommon for bats to roost in groups during the day. By roosting together in trees, caves, or even human-made structures like attics and barns, they can stay safe from these predators. And since bats are social creatures, they don’t mind spending their days close to one another.
There Is More Food Available at Night
Bats are insectivores, which means they eat insects. They eat a lot of insects. In fact, a single little brown bat can eat up to eight grams of insects in a single night! While there are plenty of insects out during the day, most bats prefer to hunt at night when there are even more insects available. Not to mention, many of these insects are also nocturnal so they’re only active at night as well, such as moths.
Moths are a bat’s favorite food, and these insects are most active at night, so the bats take advantage of the opportunity to feed. Bats are able to utilize the cover of darkness and their special sense of echolocation to hunt and eat as many insects as they can find.
Bats Are Forced to Compete During the Daytime
As you know, bats aren’t the most graceful flyers in the sky, but they share a very similar diet to that of other birds. Most birds sleep at night and are therefore most active during the daytime.
They eat many of the same types of insects as bats, so if bats did their hunting during the day, they would not only be in danger of becoming prey, but they would also have to compete with the elegant flight skills of most other birds just to get some food. So to avoid the competition (and becoming prey), bats have adapted to hunting at night and sleeping throughout the day.
Bats Often Hunt in Large Numbers
Bats don’t just roost in large numbers. If you see one bat in the wild, you are likely to see many at the same time. Bats are extremely social animals, and hunting in large groups during the daylight hours would threaten the entire group as a whole. So to avoid diminishing their massive numbers, bats have adapted to staying within the safe confines of a roost during the daytime.
Bats Have the Advantage at Night
If you’ve ever seen a bat flying around at night, it’s likely because there was some bright light source nearby, or it wasn’t fully dark yet. In natural conditions, bats are extremely difficult to spot, especially for their unsuspecting prey. Bats often have dark skin and fur that help them to blend in with the night sky, making them more difficult to see.
To top things off, bats have excellent hearing and are able to use their echolocation to target prey. Echolocation works in the same way sonar does. Essentially, the bat sends a signal down and then is able to gather information about what’s below based on the time it took for the signal to return.
During the daytime, this is virtually useless, as bats can be spotted easily. Their prey might hear the bats attempting to locate them, but they’ll never see them coming.
Do All Bats Sleep During the Day?
While the majority of bats do sleep during the day, there are a few species that are active during the daytime. The Blyth’s horseshoe bat is one such example. This small, dark-colored bat feeds exclusively on insects and can be seen hunting in broad daylight on the little-known Tioman Island, east of the Malay Peninsula in Thailand.
Several other species of bats have been discovered hunting during the daytime and all of them are isolated to islands, which raises questions about whether there’s an evolutionary difference between island bats and inland bats.
Where Do Bats Sleep During the Day?
Now that we know some of the reasons why bats sleep during the day, you might be wondering where they go to sleep. Most bats will find a roosting spot in groups of sizes ranging from a hundred to thousands.
These roosting spots can be high up in trees, deep inside caves, or even invading human-made structures like attics and barns. Bats usually don’t venture too far from their food source, so you’ll often find them near areas with a lot of insects.
Why Do Bats Sleep in Caves?
As you know, bats don’t always sleep in caves, but they often do. The reason for this is that caves offer a lot of features that bats need in order to thrive. Caves are dark, which allows the bats to sleep during the day without being disturbed.
They’re also naturally humid, which helps keep the bats’ skin and fur healthy. And finally, caves tend to be warm, which is perfect for keeping bat babies healthy and growing.
Bats Are an Important Part of Our Ecosystem
Bats play an important role in our ecosystem by controlling insect populations. A single bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes per hour, making them incredibly valuable members of our environment. By sleeping during the day, bats allow other animals (and us!) to go about their business undisturbed by pesky bugs.
There you have it! Now you know that bats sleep during the day because it’s easier for them to find food and avoid predators at night. And you also know that bats play an important role in our ecosystem by controlling insect populations. So the next time you see a bat at night, remember that there’s a reason why.