Scientists have recently discovered that hoary bats, common in the redwood forests of California, hibernate. This migratory species travels hundreds of miles across the western part of North America in their way to reach the north coast of California.
Although there are species which migrate and other which hibernate, scientists are puzzled by the fact that hoary bats can do both. This species is the largest in North America because a specimen has a 5-inch length.
Also, hoary bats are easily distinguishable thanks to their frosted fur from which they take the name. A team of scientists from the Pacific Southwest Research Station of the United States Forest Service conducted extensive research on this species and found out that these little animals hibernate.
According to Ted Weller, a Forest Service ecologist and lead author of the study, it was a common fact until now that migratory species do not spend too much time in one place even if there is enough food. Also, animals that migrate remain active during the winter, and that is why it is so unusual for the hoary bat to migrate and hibernate after reaching the north coast of California.
During the study, the team tagged a number of bats living in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park using tracking devices, while other bats were tagged with a particular device which monitored their activity, body temperature, and light levels.
This way, scientists were able to figure out how bats tackle sudden changes of weather conditions. Weller further adds that although these high-tech devices have been developed a while ago, only recently were they made small enough so that researchers could attach them to these species.
After a month, the team recaptured two bats which had GPS tracking devices and downloaded the data. One of the bats made just a single-day trek of a maximum 4-mile distance from the capture site, whereas the second bat made many treks every day between 30 and 45 miles.
A third bat presented the most unusual behavior because it flew over 600 miles, while the bats in the other group lowered their body temperatures and were less active, clear signs that they might have been hibernating between November 2014 and April 2015, while they also spend 40 days on the same site without flying.
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