|Myotis septentrionalis (Trouessart)
Northern Long-eared Bat
Don Linzey & Christy Brecht
Wytheville Community College
Wytheville, Virginia 24382
Last updated: 26 November, 2005
- Adult total length:
3 - 4 in. (75 - 100 mm)
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 in. (36 - 45 mm)
- Hind foot:
1/4 - 3/8 in. (7 - 9 mm)
1/6 - 1/3 oz. (5 - 10 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. Although similar to the little brown bat in size
and coloration, the northern long-eared has duller pelage and larger
ears which extend 4 to 5 mm beyond the tip of the nose when laid forward.
The wing attaches along the side of the foot, reaching to the base of
left lateral view of
skull and mandible
dorsal view of skull
ventral view of skull
The northern long-eared is found from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario
south to northern Florida and southern Arkansas, and west to northeastern Oklahoma,
eastern Wyoming, and eastern Montana.
© Copyright The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals,
edited by Don E. Wilson & Sue Ruff, 1999. All rights reserved.
Myotis septentrionalis -- Northern Long-eared Bat
All of the park's caves provide critically important habitats for bats. During
the summer, these bats use buildings, towers, hollow trees, beneath the loose
bark of trees, in crevices of cliffs, and beneath bridges as day roosts but
commonly use caves as night roosts. During winter, these colonial bats move
into caves and abandoned mines where they either hang individually or in small
clusters of 25 to 30. They prefer caves and mines that are relatively cool and
moist and where the air is still (Harvey et al., 1999).
Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
The northern long-eared has been recorded from six localities
within the park and along the Foothills Parkway.
- Blount Co.:
Blowhole Cave in Whiteoak Sink; Bull Cave;
Scott Gap Cave.
- Sevier Co.:
Near park headquarters; Sugarlands; Myhr Cave.
Little is known about the reproductive habits. Mating
presumably occurs in autumn and sperm is stored in the
female until fertilization in the spring. Females give
birth to a single young between late May and July.
The maximum recorded age for a wild northern long-eared
is 18.5 years.
- 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,
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
The northern long-eared bat has been designated as a species
of "state concern" in North Carolina..
- 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
Fenton, M.B., and G.P. Bell. 1981.
Recognition of insectivorous bats by their
echolocation calls. Journal of Mammalogy 62 (2): 233-243.
Fenton, M.B. 1999a.
Little brown bat. Pages 94 - 95. In: D.E. Wilson, and S.
Ruff (eds.). The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals.
Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Fitch, J. H. and K. A. Shump, Jr. 1979.
Myotis keenii. Mammalian Species No. 121: 1-3.
American Society of Mammalogists.
Hall, J. S., R. J. Cloutier and D. R. Griffin. 1957.
Longevity records and notes on tooth wear of bats.
Journal of Mammalogy 38 (3): 407-409.
Harvey, M.J., J.S. Altenbach, and T.L. Best. 1999.
Bats of the United States. Little Rock: Arkansas Game
and Fish Commission.
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