Northern Long-eared Bat

(Myotis septentrionalis)

Northern long-eared Bat
Northern long-eared Bat by John MacGregor

Status:  Threatened

Description:  This small to medium-sized bat measures 3 to 3½ inches long with a wingspan of about 9½ inches. Its coloration is similar to the little brown bat. Fur color is variable, typically medium brown on the upperparts with lighter belly fur. As the name implies, the ears of this species are longer than other Myotis species on average. The distinguishing characteristic for this species is the presence of a noticeably long, pointed tragus in the ear. In contrast, all other Myotis species have a short, blunt-tipped tragus.

Range:  This species is found through 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 long-eared bat is present year round in Kentucky and has a statewide distribution.

Distribution in Kentucky:  See Map

Habitat and Life History:  The northern long-eared bat is similar to the Indiana bat in that it hibernates in caves and roosts primarily under loose tree bark from 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 long-eared 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. They will also use manmade structures such as bridges and abandoned buildings, in addition to natural rock shelters and crevices in clifflines. Northern long-eared bats commonly forage in upland forests where they catch a variety of insects. Due to their agility in flight, they are also able to glean (pick up) insects off of vegetation.

Threats: The main threat to this species is white-nose syndrome, a devastating disease found in North America that is caused by a “cold-loving” fungus. It has caused unprecedented mortality in some of our hibernating bat species like the little brown bat, especially in the northeastern U.S.

Northern Long-eared batNorthern long-eared bat
Photo by John MacGregor
Northern long-eared bat under loose tree bark in summer 
Northern long-eared bat under loose tree bark in summer
Photo by John MacGregor
Northern long-eared bat captured in mist netNorthern long-eared bat captured in mist net
Photo by Traci Hemberger