Kentucky Bat Working Group

Northern bat (Myotis septentrionalis)

Description: A medium-sized bat, usually 3½-4 inches (89-102 mm) in length with a wingspan of about 9½ inches (241 mm).  This species is extremely similar to the little brown bat in pelage.  Fur color is somewhat variable, but typically medium brown on the upperparts with lighter belly fur.  The best character to distinguish the northern bat from similar species is the presence of a noticeably long, pointed tragus in the ear.  All other species of Myotis have a short tragus that is blunt-tipped.  The ears of this species are longer than other species of Myotis on average, but this character is not always noticeable.

Range: Much of eastern North America from western Newfoundland, southern Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba, and central Alberta, south through the eastern Great Plains to eastern Oklahoma, northern Louisiana, northern Mississippi, southern Alabama, north-central Florida, central Georgia, eastern South Carolina, eastern North Carolina, and the Atlantic Coast.

Kentucky Occurrence Summary: The northern bat is present year round in Kentucky and has a statewide distribution, although it occurs locally through much of the central portion of the state.

Distribution in Kentucky: 

Habitat and Life History: The northern bat is similar in habits to the Indiana bat in that it hibernates primarily in caves and roosts primarily under loose tree bark during spring through fall.  Alternative hibernation roosts include rock shelters in clifflines and abandoned mines.  Most individuals hibernate singly, but the species is occasionally found in small clusters.  During hibernation these bats sometimes hang from a ceiling or along a wall, but most are squeezed tightly back into crevices in the rocks.  From April through October, northern bats can be found most frequently in small colonies that roost beneath the loose bark of dead trees or shaggy bark of living trees.  Females gather into maternity colonies in such places where they typically raise one pup.  The species also uses manmade structures such as bridges and abandoned buildings, in addition to natural rock shelters and crevices in clifflines. Northern bats forage in open woodlands, along woodland edges, and along watercourses, feeding on a variety of insect prey.  They are also thought to forage occasionally on the ground, where they glean insect prey off of vegetation.

Useful links:

Animal Diversity Web - Northern Bat

Living Landscapes - Northern Long-eared Myotis

Mammals of Texas - Northern Myotis

The gleaning attacks of the Northern Long-eared Bat, Myotis septentrionalis, are relatively inaudible to moths

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