Northern long-eared bat

Myotis septentrionalis

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Size

    The northern longeared bat is a medium-sized bat with a body length of 3 to 3.7 inches and a wingspan of 9 to 10 inches

  • Habitat

    During the winter, Northern long-eared bats hibernate in caves and mines, called hibernacula. These areas are typically cold with high humidity and no air currents. During the summer, they roost underneath bark, in cavities or in crevices of both live trees and snags (dead trees). Otherwise, northern long-eared bats live in parks and forests.

  • Range

    The northern long-eared bat is found across much of the eastern and north central United States and all Canadian provinces from the Atlantic coast west to the southern Northwest Territories and eastern British Columbia.

  • Lifespan

    The maximum lifespan for the northern long-eared bat is estimated to be up to 18.5 years.
  • Status

    Threatened

Plagued by disease, the northern long-eared bat is a threatened native species. You can identify the mammal by its exceptionally long ears. 

Appearance

The northern long-eared bat is a medium-sized bat with a medium to dark brown fur coloring on the back and tawny to pale-brown on the underside. The bat’s ears are particularly long when compared to other bats in the Myotis genus.

Feeding

Northern long-eared bats fly through the understory of forested areas feeding on moths, flies, leafhoppers, caddisflies and beetles. They use echolocation to find prey or find motionless insects on vegetation.

Predators

The biggest threat to northern long-eared bats is the disease white-nose syndrome, which is decimating various bat populations in North America. Habitat destruction that comes from land development, as well as wind turbines also pose a threat to the species. 

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Breeding begins in late summer or early fall when males begin to gather just before hibernation. After copulation, females store sperm during winter hibernation. Come spring, the females emerge from their hibernacula, ovulate and fertilize their eggs using the stored sperm—a process known as “delayed fertilization.”

After fertilization, pregnant bats migrate to warm-weather areas where they roost in small “maternity colonies” and give birth. Most bats within a colony will give birth around the same time, which may occur from late May or early June to late July. Young bats start flying by 18 to 21 days after birth, and the maximum lifespan for the northern long-eared bat is up to 18.5 years.

Did You Know?

  • The northern long-eared bat suffers from a devastating disease known as white-nose syndrome that spreads during hibernation. 
  • There is a dedicated White Nose Syndrome Response Team working to curb the disease. 
  • Female northern long-eared bats store sperm during hibernation and then fertilize the egg come spring, a process known as “delayed fertilization.”
  • They get their name from their considerably long ears. 
  • During the summer, the northern long-eared myotis appears especially reliant upon forested habitats and is found in greater densities in the northern areas than in the south.

Sources and Additional Information

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Size

    The northern longeared bat is a medium-sized bat with a body length of 3 to 3.7 inches and a wingspan of 9 to 10 inches

  • Habitat

    During the winter, Northern long-eared bats hibernate in caves and mines, called hibernacula. These areas are typically cold with high humidity and no air currents. During the summer, they roost underneath bark, in cavities or in crevices of both live trees and snags (dead trees). Otherwise, northern long-eared bats live in parks and forests.

  • Range

    The northern long-eared bat is found across much of the eastern and north central United States and all Canadian provinces from the Atlantic coast west to the southern Northwest Territories and eastern British Columbia.

  • Lifespan

    The maximum lifespan for the northern long-eared bat is estimated to be up to 18.5 years.
  • Status

    Threatened