Three night hikes scheduled for October through Sodalis Nature Preserve

Hannibal Parks and Recreation

October is Bat Appreciation Month, and people have three opportunities to take part in night hikes through Sodalis Nature Preserve.

• 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1

• 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15

The night hikes, called Bats are Back, are scheduled for participants to see the bats at sunset. The hikes will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 1 and Oct. 15. On Oct. 29, groups will leave at 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Bat Appreciation Month is designed to raise awareness about the need for bat conservation. Bats are vital to the health of our natural world and economy. Although we may not always see them, bats are hard at work all around the world each night, eating tons of insects, pollinating flowers and spreading seeds that grow new plants and trees.

Indiana bats migrate from their summer habitats each year to congregate in the vicinity of their hibernation sites, which include caves and abandoned mine shafts. During this time, the bats engage in mating activity and feed in the surrounding area to build the fat reserves needed during hibernation. The bats then hibernate from late October to April.

The Indiana bat is a small, brown mammal about 1.5 to 2 inches long. The scientific name of Indiana bats is myotis sodalis. Scientists have determined more than 211,000 bats hibernate in the abandoned limestone mines at Sodalis Nature Preserve.

Night hikes last about two hours and follows a 2-mile paved trail. Participants are welcome to stay with the group or return to the parking lot on their own. Activities include seasonal observations, sensory activities and the telling of the creation of Sodalis Nature Preserve. Only 20 people can go on a hike. Reservations must be made by calling Hannibal Parks & Recreation at 573-221-0154 or by emailing mlrichards@hannibal-mo.gov.

Nature programs and hikes are led by Gale Rublee, a nationally certified interpreter guide with more than 25 years of experience in outdoor education. Rublee is a founding member of the Hannibal-area Mississippi Hills chapter of Missouri Master Naturalists, who often assist with HPR programs. 

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