|Lasionycteris noctivagans (LeConte)
Don Linzey & Christy Brecht
Wytheville Community College
Wytheville, Virginia 24382
Last updated: 26 November, 2005
- Adult total length:
2 3/4 - 3 3/4 in. (69 - 95 mm)
1 - 1 3/4 in. (25 - 45 mm)
- Hind foot:
3/8 in. (9 - 10 mm)
1/7 - 1/4 oz. (4 - 8 g)
Bats are unique among mammals because their forelimbs are specialized
for true flight. Flight membranes, which are actually extensions of
the skin of the back and belly, connect the body with the wings, legs,
and tail. Unlike birds, bats use both legs and wings during flight.
Other modifications for flight include greatly elongated fingers to
provide support for the wing membrane, a keeled sternum for the
attachment of the enlarged flight muscles, and fusion of some vertebrae.
The membrane extending from the tail to the hind legs is known as the
interfemoral membrane. The silver-haired bat is a medium-sized bat
with dark brownish-black fur. Many of the hairs on the back and on
the interfemoral membrane are tipped with silvery-white. The ears are
short and nearly as broad as they are long. When laid forward, the
ears barely reach the nostrils. The basal half of the dorsal surface
of the interfemoral membrane is sparsely furred.
left lateral view of
skull and mandible
dorsal view of skull
ventral view of skull
The silver-haired bat ranges from southern Alaska and Canada south throughout the
United States to Bermuda and northeastern Mexico.
The silver-haired bat is associated with forest and grassland habitats and is often
abundant in old-growth forests (Kunz, 1999). During the summer, these solitary bats
may be found roosting in hollow trees, beneath the loose bark of trees, and even
beneath rocks. During migration, they may also be found in buildings, in trees and
occasionally in caves.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
The silver-haired bat has been recorded from only seven
localities in the park.
- Blount Co.:
Whiteoak Sink; Cades Cove (2200 feet); Meig's
Creek Trail (2500 feet).
- Sevier Co.:
Greenbrier; park headquarters; Appalachian Trail
between Newfound Gap and Indian Gap.
- Swain Co.:
Deep Creek Ranger Station (1900 feet).
Mating presumably occurs during autumn, When the bats are
migrating, and females presumably store sperm in their
reproductive tracts during the winter. Following a gestation
period of 50-60 days, twin pups are born during June. Newborn
pups grow rapidly and are weaned in about 3-4 weeks.
- Terrestrial Ecology
The senses of sight and hearing are well developed in bats.
Since most bats become active near dusk and are active much
of the night, sight is of little importance in navigation
and in the capture of prey. Instead, they use echolocation,
a system somewhat similar to radar. They emit ultrasonic calls
far above the range of human hearing that are reflected from
objects ahead of them. They hear the echoes and are able to
avoid obstacles and find food in total darkness. Different
species can be distinguished by differences in the structure
of their echolocation calls (Fenton and Bell,
The pattern of flight of silver-haired bats has a distinctive
fluttery quality with frequent darts, twists, and glides.
These bats emerge earlier than most other species and are one
of the slowest flying North American bats. It forages over
streams and woodland ponds. During feeding maneuvers, the tail
and wing membranes are used to capture and restrain prey. Some
insects are captured by the tail membrane, which forms a
pouch-like compartment. The bat must bend its head forward in
order to grasp the insect with its teeth and take it into its
mouth. Sometimes the bat may use its mouth to capture an insect
from its wing.
Eleven species of bats have been recorded in the park and all
feed exclusively on insects. During the colder months when
flying insects are unavailable, bats must either hibernate or
migrate to warmer areas. Eight of our bats are known to hibernate.
Only three - the red bat, hoary bat, and the silver-haired bat -
are migratory. Bats have been seen flying over the park during
every month of the year. When flying during the winter, however,
they do not feed.
- Predators and Defense
No predators recorded from the park.
None recorded from the park.
- Transmittable Diseases
Bats are capable of transmitting two diseases to humans - rabies
and histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by inhaling
dust that contains contaminated spores. Tuttle (
1988) stated: "Less than a half of 1 percent of bats contract
rabies, a frequency no higher than that seen in many other animals.
Like others, they die quickly, but unlike even dogs and cats, rabid
bats seldom become aggressive." Bats do not attack when they get
rabies; they just lie in one place. Although it is rare for humans
to contract rabies from infected bats, persons handling them should
be aware of this possibility.
Links to Other Sites
- Special Protection Status
- In Park:
All plants and animals are protected within
Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Collection requires a permit which is usually granted only for
research or educational purposes.
- Map development
- Web page design & coding
- Denise Lim, University of Georgia, Athens
- John Pickering, University of Georgia, Athens
Barbour, R.W. and W. H. Davis. 1969.
Bats of America. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky.
Fenton, M.B., and G.P. Bell. 1981.
Recognition of insectivorous bats by their
echolocation calls. Journal of Mammalogy 62 (2): 233-243.
Harvey, M.J., J.S. Altenbach, and T.L. Best. 1999.
Bats of the United States. Little Rock: Arkansas game and
Kunz, T. H. 1982.
Lasionycteris noctivagans. Mammalian Species No.
172: 1-5. American Society of Mammalogists.
Kunz, T. H. 1999.
Silver-haired bat. Pages 111-112. In: D. E. Wilson, and
S. Ruff (eds.). The Smithsonian Book of North American
Mammals. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Linzey, D. W. 1995a.
Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, Inc., Blacksburg, Virginia.
Linzey, D. W. 1995b.
Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park-1995 Update.
Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 111(1):1-81.
Linzey, D. W. 1998.
The Mammals of Virginia. Blacksburg, Virginia:
The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, Inc
Tuttle, M.D. 1988.
America's Neighborhood Bats. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Last modified: 8 April, 2002