One of the most well-known facts about Northern Long-Eared Bats, or “Northern Myotis”, is that they are federally listed as a threatened species. This unfortunate fact can make us appreciate the native bat species in the United States, and motivate us to advance our initiatives to protect and preserve them. If you would like to learn some more interesting and important facts about this incredible mammal, continue reading below!
☙ Threatened, but Not Yet Endangered
As mentioned above, Northern Long-Eared Bats (Myotis septentrionalis) are listed as a federally-threatened species under the United States Endangered Species Act. The term “endangered” describes an animal that is still in existence, but at serious risk of becoming extinct. The term “threatened” describes animal that is at serious risk of becoming endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has an endangered species program that makes continuing efforts to identify, protect, and restore threatened and endangered species all across the country.
☙ A Flying Mammal in the Microchiroptera Suborder
The Northern Long-Eared Bat is part of the Microchiroptera suborder, also known as microbats. These bats, along with their fellow suborder, Megabats, are the only mammals on Earth that are capable of true flight! Although some animals, like the Flying Squirrel, can soar and float for extended lengths of time, they are not true fliers, such as birds and, in this case, microbats!
☙ Long Ears as the Name Suggests
Northern Long-Eared Bats are small, averaging in body lengths between 3 and 3.7 inches. However, they have particularly longer ears compared to other species within the Myotis Genus. This is their most distinguishable trait, hence their name! As for the rest of their appearance, the fur on their back ranges in color from medium to dark brown, while their underbellies are lighter browns and tans. For such small bat they have an impressive wingspan, averaging between 9 and 10 inches in width.
☙ Native to Kentucky and Bordering States
The geographic range of the Northern Long-Eared Bat species includes 37 states, as well as, Southern Canada east of British Columbia. Part of this range includes Kentucky. They are often found roosting in the Northern parts of the state, also as their name suggests. Additional U.S. states include Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
☙ Winter is a Time for Hibernacula
Northern Long-Eared Bats usually roost inside tree cavities and underneath tree bark during the spring and summer. In the winter, they find a warm spot with high humidity and no air currents so they can enter into Hibernacula, also known as hibernation. During this time, they are commonly found roosting in abandoned mines and caves; however, when more convenient, many choose residential and commercial structures, like sheds, garages, attics, crawl spaces, and more.