LITTLE ROCK - While many people know that Arkansas bats mostly live in trees in the summer and either hibernate in caves or migrate south for the winter, not many have heard that several bat species have been found living in old, hand-dug water wells and cisterns in south Arkansas.
One of these is the Rafinesque's big-eared bat, which sleeps in hollow trees or abandoned houses in bottomland hardwood forests during the summer, but often moves to old wells in the winter. Because of the soil around these deep shafts, temperatures inside the wells are usually relatively warm, making it a good place for this species to find refuge when night-time temperatures dip below 40 degrees.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is working to protect wells and cisterns used by bats. Last fall, in conjunction with Bat Conservation International, the AGFC installed steel covers on three wells on private land in Lafayette and Nevada counties that keep people from falling in or throwing trash down the wells while still making it possible for the bats to use them.