Just Hanging Around: Bats of Illinois

Fairy tales and tall tales recounting the lore of bats have existed for thousands of years. An early Slavic community in Romania believed bats flying over an unburied human corpse could bring them back to life as a vampire. Another story from Aesop’s fairy tales gives origin to bats hiding in dark towers and deserted ruins-they must only fly out at night because they are deceitful and must live in hiding. Today, we know that most bats are nocturnal and prefer to do many of their daily activities at night.

Bats tend to be unusual, secretive critters that we tend to see during the summer sunset and as they are flying, catching insects that are almost too small to see with the naked eye. They can consume up to three thousand insects in one evening, making them great forms of natural pest control. After having their daily feast, they return to their homes that they have made in rock formations, hollow trees, other natural habitats, and man-made buildings and family homes.

In Illinois, bats can be seen year-round. The little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), and the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) are examples of bats that live in Illinois constantly and can be seen during any season. Other examples of bats, like the hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) and evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis), live in Illinois during the summer months.

It’s unfortunate that bats are being pushed out of their natural environments and into the homes of our community members. In the event a bat is found in your home, do everything you can to leave the bat alone. Ensure all family members (humans and pets) are kept away from the bat, as well. Unfortunately, bats are one species the Wildlife Medical Clinic cannot accept bats for care under any circumstances. As such, should you find yourself in proximity to a bat, we recommend you contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on how to best handle the situation. Compared to other species, bats pose a high risk of transmitting rabies if encountered and we want to be sure you stay safe! Rabies is a fatal disease if not immediately treated, so it is best to leave a bat alone unless you have no other choice.

If you are interested in seeing bats in their natural habitat, consider traveling to the Bracken Cave Preserve near San Antonio, Texas, as millions of bats will migrate from Texas down to Mexico for the winter. This migration period lasts from late October to mid-November and is a sight to see!

Written by Chloe Dupleix, Class of 2024

Sources Cited

Bat-watching sites of Texas. Bat-Watching Sites of Texas. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/bats/bat-watching-sites/

The Birds, the beasts, & the bat. Library of Congress Aesop Fables. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://read.gov/aesop/061.html

Folklore and the origin of bats. Bat Conservation International. (2020, April 15). Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.batcon.org/article/folklore-and-the-origin-of-bats/

Sections. Bats –Wildlife Illinois. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.wildlifeillinois.org/gallery/mammals/other-mammals/bats/#:~:text=Big%20brown%20bats%2C%20little%20brown,relatively%20uncommon%20in%20the%20state.

Why are bats and vampires so closely associated? 5 Star Bed Bug & Pest Control in Santa Clara, CA. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.deltapestcontrolservice.com/why-are-bats-and-vampires-so-closely-associated#:~:text=Early%20Slavic%20societies%20(specifically%20Romania,of%20the%20bat%2Dvampire%20link.