Endangered Bats Swarming in Hannibal
Here's a fun fact. Did you know Hannibal is home to the biggest population of a federal endangered species? More Indiana bats call the caves of Hannibal home than any other place in the world. And now's the best time to get a look at these rare creatures as they swarm out of their caves to fatten up for hibernation.
Scientists estimate about 211,000 Indiana bats hibernate at the Sodalis Nature Preserve in Hannibal. That's 1/3 of the world's population of this particular species. These bats migrate in the summer, but in the fall, they come back to Hannibal and start to swarm, in preparation for their winter hibernation. Each bat can eat up to 3,000 insects a night, filling up for their long winter slumber.
Sunset in October at the Sodalis Preserve is the best time of year to see the Indiana bats. You can hike the trails on your own, but even better is to join one of the guided night hikes that the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department offers. There you'll learn more about the bats in their natural habitat. Two guided night hikes to the bat caves are scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10 and at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24. Only 20 participants are allowed and you'll need to make a reservation by calling Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department at 573-221-0154.
By the way, if bats aren't your thing, Sodalis park is the perfect place for a walk. The park offers two miles of paved trails winding alongside Bear Creek and the limestone caves. There are also unpaved trails that offer a more rugged hiking experience.