Kentucky Bat Working Group

Hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus)

Description: Kentucky’s largest bat, typically measuring greater than 5½ inches (127 mm) in length with a wingspan of nearly 16 inches (406 mm).  The color pattern of this bat is variable, but most individuals have brownish fur, with a yellow-tan throat area.  The fur is thick and broadly tipped with silvery-white, especially on the chest and back; fur of the belly and wing linings is buffy.  Ears are short and rounded, and the tail membrane is completely furred.  Wing membranes are mostly black, but contrast with flesh tones of wing bones to result in a beautiful pattern to the spread wing.

Range: The most widespread of all American bats, the hoary bat occurs widely across most of North America from north-central Canada, south into southern Mexico.

Kentucky Occurrence Summary: The species has been documented from more than 20 counties across the state.  Most records have been made during migratory periods, but some have occurred in summer.  Breeding in Kentucky has been confirmed on only a few occasions.

Distribution in Kentucky:

Habitat and Life History: The hoary bat is a forest species, typically roosting beneath clusters of leaves during spring, summer and fall.  Its thick fur provides excellent insulation, resulting in great tolerance of cold temperatures.  Winter hibernation sites are poorly known, but may include hollow trees and abandoned buildings.  It is also believed that many migrate southward in fall, spending the winter in warmer regions where foraging is continued.  This species typically roosts solitarily throughout the year. Hoary bats forage on a variety of flying insects, probably captured along woodland openings and edge, as well as along riparian corridors.

Useful links:

Animal Diversity Web - Hoary Bat

Hoary Bat - Lasiurus cinereus

Mammals of Texas - Hoary Bat

The Little-known World of Hoary Bats

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