Kentucky Bat Working Group

Eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis)

Description: One of Kentucky’s larger bats, sometimes reaching 4¾ inches (120 mm) in length with a wingspan of approximately 13 inches (330 mm).  Both sexes are predominantly orangish to rusty in color, although males tend to be a darker rusty color than the females.  The fur is frosted with white tips, especially on the back and chest.  In contrast, the wing membranes are largely blackish, making for a beautiful pattern to the spread wing.  The ears are relatively short with a blunt tragus, and unlike most other Kentucky bats, the tail membrane is heavily furred.

Range: Widespread across much of North America from southern Canada, south through Central America to northern South America; absent only from the Rocky Mountains and southern Florida.

Kentucky Occurrence Summary: The species occurs commonly across Kentucky; it is most frequently encountered in summer, although substantial numbers likely pass through during migration and some may overwinter.

Distribution in Kentucky:

Habitat and Life History: The eastern red bat inhabits forests, roosting primarily beneath clusters of leaves during spring, summer and fall.  In this position they mimic a dead leaf by hanging by one foot, reducing predation.  Most red bats likely migrate southward in fall, moving far enough to avoid severe winter temperatures; however, warm winter weather often results in the appearance of a few foraging individuals in Kentucky, suggesting that at least some individuals of this hardy species overwinter.  Those that do so likely hibernate in hollow trees, fallen logs, and even the leaf litter of the forest floor.  Red bats are rarely if ever observed in caves, although they may swarm with other bats at cave entrances in fall.  These bats typically roost solitarily, rarely if ever forming small colonies.  They forage on a wide variety of insects including moths, flies, true bugs, beetles, cicadas, and even ground-dwelling crickets that are snapped up from the forest floor.  Females give birth to one to four pups during late May and early June.

Useful links:

Animal Diversity Web - Red Bat

Lasiurus borealis - Red bat

Mammals of Texas - Eastern Red Bat

Red bat, Lasiurus borealis

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