What is a maternity colony?

The place where bats live is known as the roost. The bats may need different conditions to roost depending on the time of year. They will typically move around in order to find the roost that meets the needs they have at that particular time. There are bats that prefer to roost in hollow trees while others live in caves. There are many bats that find shelter in buildings, hanging tiles, or roof spaces. For many weeks during the summer, the females of many types of bat species gather during their maternity period to roost to have their babies. The roosts these groups establish are known as maternity colonies. Other species of bats, including red, hoary, and silver-haired bats, prefer to roost alone when they are pregnant.

When the weather gets warmer, mostly in the early summer, many pregnant female bats start to look together for a warm and safe place they can stay to have and raise their babies. Most species of bats have multiple mothers that join together to locate this safe location. The male bats do not participate in the maternity colony. Once a group of female bats determines a safe maternity colony, they tend to return to the same spot every year if possible.

The pregnancy of the bats can last between six to nine weeks, although the length can differ depending on the species and other factors that may influence this include the weather, climate and food availability. Bats typically give birth to only one baby every year, and it is called a pup. They do keep the babies close within the maternity colony so that they may nurture them in a careful manner. Young bats suckle the mother for around five weeks, and when they are old enough to be able to fly, they will start to leave the maternity colony to look for food. During the maternity season, the bats can become very sensitive and they may even abandon their babies if they get disturbed. This is one reason why you will need to find out if there is a maternity colony located within your home because if you disturb the mothers, you could end up with several bat babies abandoned and starving in your home. It is particularly important to check for these colonies before doing any construction or remodeling work on your home in the warmer months.

Go back to the How to Get Rid of Bats page or email us if you have any other questions about What is a maternity colony?