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Watch your step: You may find bats on the ground in Central Park

They’re in shock from the cold as it turns out.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

This year has presented Central Park-goers with some mildly concerning wildlife encounters. First, it was “splooting” squirrels. Now? It’s bats on the ground.

Be careful as you walk the park’s 842.6 acres this winter—bats are apparently falling to the ground because they’re cold, according to the Central Park Conservancy.

This isn’t a new development—they fall to the ground in shock when there’s a cold snap.

“This behavior isn’t uncommon during the fall as temperatures fluctuate drastically,” NYC Parks tweeted. “It gets too cold for their muscles and their activity slows. As temps rise throughout the day, so will their body temperature.”

As with any wildlife, it’s best not to approach or touch the animals. The parks department said if you see a bat on the ground to call 311 so that park rangers can help them.

According to the Central Park Conservancy’s Conservancy Guide Ryan Schmidt, New York has nine species of bats and Central Park’s bats are divided into two main groups: tree-roosting and cave-roosting.

Cave-roosting bats “stay in the same general location all year and hibernate in the winter, surviving off of fat reserves,” Schmidt said in a CPC article from 2020. Tree-roosting bats roost in trees, like the eastern red bats, hoary bats, and silver-haired bats. “These are the main bats we are likely to see in Central Park because they migrate south in the winter to warmer areas,” Schmidt said. As they roost in trees are “more likely to be spotted during the daytime if someone has a keen eye.”

Most of the park’s bats feed on fruit, nectar and insects (they can consume 20–50% of their body weight in insects each night), so they are very good at keeping West Nile Virus at bay. Thanks, bats!

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