October is Bat Appreciation Month so it’s a good time to see the bats getting ready to hibernate.
There will be three opportunities in October to take part in Night Hikes through Sodalis Nature Preserve:
- 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1
- 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15
- 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29 which groups leaving every 30 minutes, reserve space at 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m.
The night hikes, called Bats are Back, are scheduled in time for participants to see the bats at sunset.
Bat Appreciation Month is designed to raise awareness about the need for bat conservation. Bats are vital to the health of our natural world and economy. Although we may not always see them, bats are hard at work all around the world each night – eating tons of insects, pollinating flowers, and spreading seeds that grow new plants and trees.
Each fall, Indiana bats migrate from their summer habitats to congregate in the vicinity of their hibernation sites, which include caves and abandoned mine shafts. During this time, the bats engage in mating activity and feed in the surrounding area to build the fat reserves needed during hibernation. The bats then hibernate from late October to April.
The Indiana bat is a small, brown mammal about 1.5 to 2 inches long. The scientific name of Indiana bats is myotis sodalis. Scientists have determined there are more than 211,000 that hibernate in the abandoned limestone mines at Sodalis Nature Preserve.
The full Night Hike program lasts about two hours and follows a 2-mile paved trail. Participants are welcome to stay with the group or return to the parking lot on their own. Activities include seasonal observations, sensory activities and the telling of the creation of Sodalis Nature Preserve.
There will be a strict limit of 20 participants and reservations must be made by calling Hannibal Parks & Recreation at 221-0154 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nature programs and hikes are led by Gale Rublee, a nationally certified interpreter guide with more than 25 years of experience in outdoor education. Rublee is a founding member of the Hannibal area Mississippi Hills chapter of Missouri Master Naturalists and Master Naturalist volunteers often assist with HPR programs.