Category Archives: Bats

Fringe Tailed Bat

Fringe Tailed Bat
Image by: Merlin D. Tuttle. Copyright reserved by the artist of this image. This image may not be reproduced without artist’s permission.

Fringe Tailed Bat (Myotis thysanodes)

Description: Body length about 3.2-4.0″, with an 11-13″ wingspan. Reddish brown to dark brown long fur on back, paler underside. Small bat with relatively long ears. Fringe hair on tail membrane between feet.

Range: Western US and Canada ? patchy distribution and uncommon. May migrate to lower, warmer elevations and stay somewhat active in winter.

Habitat: Found in desert scrub to oak and juniper forests ? most common in drier woodlands. Flies close to tree canopy and forages along streams and rivers. Roosts in rock crevices, caves, buildings and mines as well as large snags generally in small clusters of females. Males roost alone or in small separate colony.

Diet: Emerges one-two hours after sunset. Eats mostly beetles and moths, also consumes flies, leafhoppers, lacewings, crickets and spiders. May glean insects from foliage.

Behavior: Slow and agile flight. Can hover. Changes roosts periodically. One pup which can fly at 3 weeks of age.

Risks: Loss or modification of roosting habitat, mine changes, recreational caving, loss of decadent trees, removal of forest and woodland habitat.

Species of Special Concern in California.

Western Mastiff Bat

Western Mastiff Bat
Image by: Merlin D. Tuttle. Copyright reserved by the artist of this image. This image may not be reproduced without artist’s permission.

Western Mastiff Bat (Eumops parotis)

Description: Body length about 6.3-7.4″, with a 21-23″ wingspan. Bi-colored fur ? white at base and brownish to dark gray at tips with lighter underside. Largest bat in the US. Tail extends beyond tail membrane. Long narrow wings. Large round ears which bend forward and join at base.

Range: Southwest US. Do not migrate or hibernate.

Habitat: Desert scrub to woodland. Forage in open areas. Roost in exfoliating rock slabs of vertical cliffs and rugged canyons. Live deep inside narrow crevices. Sometimes roost with other species.

Diet: Emerge after complete darkness. Forage at high altitudes. Primarily eats moths but diet also includes beetles, crickets, katydids and dragonflies. May forage in groups.

Behavior: Due to size, drops 10 feet to launch flight. Fast, strong, high flier. Males and females roost together year-round. Birth one pup. Throat gland secretes strong odor. Emits high pitched sound audible to humans.

Risks: Urban expansion, disturbance, vandalism, quarry operations and rock climbing.
Species of Special Concern in California.

Townsend’s Long-Eared Bat

Townsend's Long-Eared Bat
Image by: Merlin D. Tuttle. Copyright reserved by the artist of this image. This image may not be reproduced without artist’s permission.

Townsend’s Long-Eared Bat (Plecotus townsendii)

Description: Body length about 3.5-4.6″, with a 12-13″ wingspan. Pale to black fur with paler belly. Huge ears (over an inch long). Two lumps on either side of nose.

Range: Western North America. Hibernates in caves and mines near entrances.

Habitat: Forested and open (edge) habitat. Roost from ceiling frequently hinging by one foot.

Diet: Emerge an hour after sunset. Eats mostly moths, but also eats lacewings, dung beetles, flies and sawflies.

Behavior: Flight can go from swift to hovering. One pup is born and able to fly at two and a half to three weeks. May loose half of the body mass during normal over-winter hibernation. Life span 16 years or more.

Risks: Habitat loss, vandalism, renewed mining and increased disturbance by cavers in maternity and roost colonies have reduced the numbers of this gentle bat. When roost is disturbed, they may abandon it permanently. Disturbance during hibernation leads to burning energy in an attempt to escape and they may not have enough fat storage left to survive the winter. Species of Special Concern in California.

Long-Eared Myotis

Long-Eared Myotis
Image by: Merlin D. Tuttle. Copyright reserved by the artist of this image. This image may not be reproduced without artist’s permission.

Long-Eared Myotis (Myotis evotis)

Description: Body length about 3.4-3.9″, with a 10-12″ wingspan. Long, glossy brown fur on back and lighter belly.

Range: Western US and Canada, not common in CA central valley. Probably migrates short distances to hibernate.

Habitat: Found in coniferous forested areas and semi arid shrub lands and agricultural areas. Roosts singly or in very small groups. Small maternal colonies. Roost in abandoned buildings, hollow trees, niches under bark, cliff crevices, caves and mines.

Diet: Emerges half hour after sunset. Forages in forests. Catches insects on the fly, gleans off vegetation or the ground. Prefers moths and beetles. Also consumes true bugs, flies, lace wings, other insects as well as spiders and wasps.

Behavior: Flies slowly, can hover. Mother gives birth to one pup. Life span 22 years.

Description: Body length about 3.4-3.9″, with a 10-12″ wingspan. Long, glossy brown fur on back and lighter belly.

Range: Western US and Canada, not common in CA central valley. Probably migrates short distances to hibernate.

Habitat: Found in coniferous forested areas and semi arid shrub lands and agricultural areas. Roosts singly or in very small groups. Small maternal colonies. Roost in abandoned buildings, hollow trees, niches under bark, cliff crevices, caves and mines.

Diet: Emerges half hour after sunset. Forages in forests. Catches insects on the fly, gleans off vegetation or the ground. Prefers moths and beetles. Also consumes true bugs, flies, lace wings, other insects as well as spiders and wasps.

Behavior: Flies slowly, can hover. Mother gives birth to one pup. Life span 22 years.

Risks: Closure of abandoned mines, recreational caving, blasting for avalanche control, destruction of rocky areas for development.

Closure of abandoned mines, recreational caving, blasting for avalanche control, destruction of rocky areas for development.

Canyon Bat

Canyon Bat (Pipistrellus Hesperus), formerly known as the Western Pipistrelle.

Canyon Bat
Image by: Merlin D. Tuttle. Copyright reserved by the artist of this image. This image may not be reproduced without artist’s permission.

Description: Body length about 2.4-3.4″, with a 7-9″ wingspan. Yellow to light grey to reddish brown fur. Membrane of wings, ears and tail are dark black. Smallest bat in the US. Keeled calcar. One premolar. Club-shaped tragus (vs. pointed tragus of Myotis).

Range: Stays in home range. Hibernates or stays active. More common in desert and lowlands of south-western North America to Mexico. Found in association with significant rock features in lower elevation mixed conifer forest in mountain ranges in CA.

Habitat: Desert, around towns and above water. Roosts in rock crevices alone or in small groups, may also be found in mines and bridges. Begins foraging before sunset, may also be active after sunrise.

Diet: Caddis flies, stone flies, moths, small beetles, leaf and stilt bugs, leafhoppers, flies, mosquitoes, flying ants, wasps and fruit flies.

Behavior:Behavior: Strong, fast and erratic flier. Gives birth to twins which fly at 4 weeks.

Risks: Destruction of rocky areas due to mining and development.

Silver-Haired Bat

Silver-Haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans)

Silver-Haired Bat
Image by: Merlin D. Tuttle. Copyright reserved by the artist of this image. This image may not be reproduced without artist’s permission.

Description: Body length about 3.6-4.6″, with an 11-13″ wingspan. Black with silver-tipped fur and black wings. Tail membrane is lightly furred close to the body.

Range: Throughout North America, scarce through much of its range. Primarily a forest bat.

Habitat: Roosts singly or in small groups in wooded areas, especially in old growth forests. It typically roosts in hollows, loose bark and cracks and crevices of trees. During migration, may be found in sheds, wood piles, outbuildings and fence posts.

Diet: Mostly feeds on moths, but also true bugs, flies, mosquitoes, termites and beetles. Have been seen flying before the sun has set. Feeds over water and above treetops in woods.

Behavior: One of the slowest flying bats. People fishing have caught this bat on fish hooks. (See FAQ for what to do). Generally give birth to twins which can fly at 4-5 weeks of age. Lifespan 12 years or more.

Risks: Logging and loss of large snags, loss of riparian areas.

Little Brown Myotis

Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus)

Little Brown Myotis
Image by: Merlin D. Tuttle. Copyright reserved by the artist of this image. This image may not be reproduced without artist’s permission.

Description: Body length about 2.4-4.0″, with a 9-11″ wingspan. Glossy pale tan to dark brown, evenly colored fur. Long hairs on toes. Small, black pointed ears with blunt tragus.

Range: Woodland, forest bat. May be the most abundant bat in North America. Ranges from Alaska to Monterey, then down Sierras, across Canada and US. Typically absent from hot, dry lowlands.

Habitat: Roost in large groups in caves, rock crevices, hot attics, buildings and bat houses. Also use dead and dying trees near water. Migrates to hibernation caves and mines. Hibernate in caves and mines.

Diet: Emerges at late dusk. Emerging aquatic insects including gnats, crane flies, mosquitoes and mayflies, as well as beetles, moths, bugs, flies. Can eat more than their body weight each night.

Behavior: Lifespan 34 years or more. Forage over water and around trees and lawns. Give birth to one pup which can fly at 14 days. Baby kept beneath wing during day.

Risks: Removal of snags, alterations in riparian areas, timber harvest and forest recreation which causes disturbance. Also closure of cold mines used for hibernation.

Hoary Bat

Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)

Hoary Bat
Image by: Merlin D. Tuttle. Copyright reserved by the artist of this image. This image may not be reproduced without artist’s permission.

Description: Body length about 5.1-5.9″, with a 13-16″ wingspan. Blackish-brown or tan fur with frosted appearance. Tail membrane fully furred. Chattering and hissing sounds audible to humans. Ears rounded and glossy black. Golden color around face.

Range: Widespread distribution throughout North America and Hawaii as well as Brazil to Argentina and Chile. Migrates in flocks to warmer climates for winter.

Habitat: Roosts in foliage of trees near ends of branches. Blends with the bark of trees. Highly associated with forested habitats but can be found in suburbs with old, large trees.

Diet: Emerges late in evening, two to five hours after sunset. Hunts at treetop level, fields, over streams and around outdoor lights. Eats moths, true bugs, mosquitoes, dragonflies, and other insects.

Behavior: Solitary bat. Furry tail used as a blanket. One to four pups (two is norm). Pups fly at 4-5 weeks. Predators: Jays, kestrels, hawks, owls and snakes.

Risks: Loss of habitat due to timber harvest. In suburban settings, quantity of jays poses a major threat.

Western Red Bat

Western Red Bat (Lasiurus blossevillii)

Western Red Bat
Drawing by: mishappen. Copyright reserved by the artist of this image. This image may not be reproduced without artist’s permission.

Description: Body length about 4″, with an 11-13″ wingspan. Orange-brown to yellow-brown fur with a fully furred tail membrane. Long pointed wings. Short rounded ears.

Range: Throughout California, some in Washington, Utah and Arizona, to Central America, Argentina and Chile. Migratory from coast to valley.

Habitat: Edge habitats of forest, rivers, fields and urban areas. Roost alone in leaves of trees. Roost in leaf litter in the winter.

Diet: Peak activity one to two hours after sunset. Eats moths, beetles, flying ants and other insects.

Behavior: Fast, strong fliers at treetop to a few feet above the ground. Hang by one foot with head tucked in furry tail membrane. Gives birth to up to 4 pups. If the mother has to move with her pups, she may become grounded due to weight of pups and unable to return with pups a roost. Predators: Scrub Jays, falcons, hawks, owls, opossums and domestic cats.

Risks: Loss of riparian zones, pesticide use in orchards and controlled burns of leaf litter.

Yuma Myotis

Yuma Myotis (Myotis yumanensis)

Yuma Myotis
Image by: Merlin D. Tuttle. Copyright reserved by the artist of this image. This image may not be reproduced without artist’s permission.

Description: Body length about 3.0-3.5″, with a 9-10″ wingspan. Light brown to dark brown back and paler under side. Large feet and short ears. Wings and ears are dark brown. Very similar to the Little Brown Bat

Range: From British Colombia, across western US, Baja and to southern Mexico. Hibernate in winter.

Habitat: Emerges early in evening. Found in buildings, cliff crevices, trees, caves, mines and under bridges.

Diet: Emerge just after sunset. Usually feeds near water, filling up in about 15 minutes. Consumes aquatic emergent insects including mayflies, caddis flies, midges, small beetles, flies, termites and small moths.

Behavior: Flies low. Forms colonies of up to 5,000 bats. Mother bat gives birth to one pup.

Risk: Maternal colonies do not tolerate disturbance by people: they fail or are abandoned with subsequent decline in population. Since it lives in human dwellings, it is vulnerable to destructive pest control activities.