|Pipistrellus subflavus (F. Cuvier)|
Eastern Pipistrelle Bat
Don Linzey & Christy Brecht
Wytheville Community College
Wytheville, Virginia 24382
Last updated: 26 November, 2005
- Adult total length:
3 - 3 3/4 in. (75 - 95 mm)
1 1/4 - 1 7/8 in. (32 - 46 mm)
- Hind foot:
1/4 - 3/8 in. (7 - 9 mm)
1/10 - 1/5 oz. (3 - 6 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 eastern pipistrelle is one of the smallest
of the park's bats and is fairly common. Adults are light reddish-brown
above and slightly paler below. The dorsal hairs are tricolored, being
darkest at their base, yellowish-brown in the middle, and dark at the tip.
Long guard hairs are completely reddish-brown. The skin covering the
forearms is reddish and serves as a distinctive identification characteristic.
The ears are longer than broad and taper to a narrowly rounded tip.
When laid forward, the ear reaches slightly beyond the tip of the nostrils.
The dorsal third of the interfemoral membrane (uropatagium) is lightly furred.
left lateral view of
skull and mandible
dorsal view of skull
ventral view of skull
The eastern pipistrelle ranges throughout the eastern states west to central Minnesota,
western Oklahoma, and central Texas. The range extends south through eastern Mexico to
Guatemala and Belize.
All of the park's caves provide critically important habitats for bats. During the summer,
these bats roost mostly in trees. Hibernation sites include caves, abandoned mines, and
rock crevices with individuals usually hanging singly in warmer parts of the cave
(Harvey et al., 1999). A bat may shift from one spot to another in the
cave during the winter. Blowhole Cave contains one of the largest known winter colonies
of the eastern pipistrelle in the United States. Rabinowitz (1979)
reported that eastern pipistrelles selected hibernating roosts in relatively remote areas
of Park caves containing little or no air flow. Over 80% of the bats in these areas hibernated
in places where the ambient temperature was 8-11°C. Most bats avoided both highest and lowest
Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
Eastern pipistrelles have been recorded in the park and along
the Foothills Parkway at elevations ranging from 1,530 feet to
- Blount Co.:
Blowhole Cave; Saltpeter Cave; Gregory Cave; Calf
Cave No. 1; Calf Cave No. 2; Scott Gap Cave; Tory
Shields Bluff Cave; Bull Cave; Rainbow Falls Cave.
- Cocke Co.:
Near Low Gap (2,700 feet).
- Sevier Co.:
Myhr Cave (1,530 feet); Greenbrier; Sugarlands CCC
Camp (1,800 feet).
Mating occurs during autumn. Females store sperm in their reproductive
tracts during the winter and ovulate in early spring, at the time of
arousal from hibernation. Following a gestation period of 60 days, twin
pups are born during June. Each weighs about 20% of its mother's weight.
Pipistrelle pups grow rapidly and begin to fly between the ages of 14-21
days. Young pipistrelles are weaned at 4 weeks of age.
The oldest recorded age for any eastern pipistrelle is 14.8 years
(Walley and Jarvis, 1971).
- 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, 1981).
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.
- 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.
Fujita, M. S. and T. H. Kunz. 1984.
Pipistrellus subflavus. Mammalian Species No. 228: 1-6.
American Society of Mammalogists.
Harvey, M.J., J.S. Altenbach, and T.L. Best. 1999.
Bats of the United States. Little Rock: Arkansas game and
Kunz, T. H. 1999.
Eastern pipistrelle. Pages 114-115. 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.
Rabinowitz, A.R., and B. Nottingham. 1979.
Human visitation and fall-winter cave usage by bats in Great
Smoky Mountains National Park. National Park Service. Final rep.
on contract #PX-5000-90281.
Tuttle, M.D. 1988.
America's Neighborhood Bats. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Walley, H.D., and W.L. Jarvis. 1971.
Longevity record for Pipistrellus subflavus. Transactions of the
Illinois Academy of Science 64 (3): 305.
Last modified: 8 April, 2002