October is often called Bat Appreciation Month.

Hannibal is now home to Sodalis Nature Preserve, which provides essential hibernating habitat for more than 200,000 Indiana bats—approximately one-third of all the Indiana bats known to exist. No other bat hibernaculum of this size occurs anywhere else in the world.

At sunset in the fall, bats are often seen flying in and out of the caves at Sodalis Nature Preserve so Hannibal Parks & Recreation offers night hikes to allow residents to learn about the bats.

Night Hikes through Sodalis Nature Preserve will begin at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 11 and Oct. 25.

Participants are asked to meet in the parking lot of Sodalis Nature Preserve. The program will cover the history of the lime kiln mines, the Sodalis success story and life cycle of the endangered Indiana bat. Seasonal nature observations will be made along the path. Participants can stay with the group for an hour then return to the parking lot on their own; or remain with the guide to continue around the 2-mile loop for the full 2-hour program.

Gale Rublee, Hannibal Parks & Recreation nature educator, will lead the hike. She has previously been a naturalist and teacher at Shaw Nature Reserve in St. Louis and has been a storyteller and actor. She is the coordinator and teacher for the Bluff City Theater Youth Education Theater Initiative.

The Night Hikes are free but reservations must be made by calling Hannibal Parks & Recreation at 221-0154 or emailing mlrichards@hannibal-mo.gov.