Hoary Bat

(Lasiurus cinereus)

Hoary Bat by John MacGregor

Description:  Kentucky’s largest bat, the hoary bat typically measures greater than 5½ inches in length with a wingspan of nearly 16 inches. 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. Wing membranes are mostly black, but contrast with flesh tones of wing bones results in a beautiful pattern to the spread wing. Lasiurus means “hairy tail” and unlike most other Kentucky bats, the hoary bat’s tail membrane is heavily furred. In general, fur covers the majority of this bat’s body; it is even on its short, rounded ears.

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:There are scattered records for the species across Kentucky. It is most frequently encountered in summer, although many likely pass through during migration. The species is not known to overwinter in the state.

Distribution in Kentucky:  See Map

Habitat and Life History:  This solitary “tree bat” inhabits forests, 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. Females give birth to two pups anywhere from mid May to early July. Hoary bats forage on a variety of flying insects, probably captured along woodland openings and edge, as well as along riparian corridors. 


Hoary Bat Hoary bat
Photo by John MacGregor
Hoary bat in flight Hoary bat in flight
Photo by James Kiser
Hoary bat Hoary bat
Photo by John MacGregor