Kentucky Bat Working Group

Southeastern myotis (Myotis austroriparius)

Federal Status: Species of Management Concern

Kentucky Status: Endangered

Description: A medium-sized bat, usually 3½-4 inches (89-102 mm) in length with a wingspan of 10 inches (254 mm).  Bats in the genus Myotis are relatively hard to tell apart, but this one typically has whitish belly fur in winter that contrasts strongly with the brown fur of the back, long toe hairs, and a bare, pinkish nose.  In summer, most individuals take on a russet hue.

Range: This bat occurs locally through the southeastern United States from southeastern North Carolina, central Georgia, southern and western Alabama, western Tennessee and Kentucky, southern Indiana and Illinois, west to central Arkansas, southeastern Oklahoma, and eastern Texas, south to the Gulf Coast and central Florida.

Kentucky Occurrence Summary: The southeastern myotis can be found regularly only in the western half of Kentucky, and even there it is very locally distributed.

Distribution in Kentucky: 

Habitat and Life History: This bat uses a variety of roost sites across its range, typically roosting in clusters of several to a few hundred or more individuals.  In Kentucky it occurs throughout the year, typically hibernating in caves, often in association with Indiana bats.  From about mid-April to late October, some continue to roost in caves, but many may move into cavities in large, hollow trees.  Such trees may typically be associated with bottomland habitats, often near water.  Kentucky’s only known maternity site was found in a cave, but in other parts of the range abandoned buildings and hollow trees are more frequently used.  Southeastern bats are thought to forage primarily over lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams, flying close to the water’s surface.  This species is unique among Kentucky’s Myotis bats in that it normally bears twins instead of a single young.  Young take two to three weeks longer to develop than most of our bats.

Conservation: The southeastern myotis has declined across much of its range for several likely reasons.  Human disturbance and physical alteration to hibernacula and maternity sites located in caves may be the primary reason.  Hibernating bats can be awakened by excessive human visitation, causing the bats to use up important fat reserves.  Likewise, when maternity colonies are disturbed, female bats may abandon young. In addition, some caves have been altered by the closing off of their entrances, flooding by dams, and campfires.  Another important factor is probably the clearing and draining of wetland areas.  The alteration of such habitat has greatly reduced the amount of suitable summer roosting and foraging habitat.  The indirect effects of pesticide use on this insectivorous bat are not known, but likely have played a role as well.

Related links: - Southeastern Myotis

Mammals of Texas - Southeastern Myotis

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