Northern Long-Eared Bat’s Habitat
Habitat in winter
These bats spend the winter hibernating in mines and caves, and is called hibernacula. They like mines and caves that have constant temperatures, and of various sizes. They also like them to have no air currents and high humidity. When they are found hibernating, they are generally found within hibernacula, in the small cracks or crevices, with only their ears and noses visible.
Habitat in summer
Northern long-eared bats can be found in colonies or on their own roosting underneath bark, in the crevices or cavities or either snags (dead trees) or live trees. Non-reproductive females and males have been known to roost in much cooler places, such as mines and caves. When it comes to selecting a roost these bats seem to be flexible, they will roost in trees that they consider to be suitable based on their ability to retain bark, or provide crevices or cavities. They have also been found roosting in other places such as sheds or barns.
This begins in the late summer months or even early fall, and it is around this time that you will find males swarming around hibernacula. Once they have copulated, the females will store the sperm until spring and throughout their hibernation. Once spring has arrived the females, can be seen emerging from their hibernacula, they then ovulate and the sperm that they have been storing is then used to fertilize their egg. This process is called delayed fertilization.
Once the females have become pregnant, they will migrate to areas that are in their summer months, here they roost in tiny colonies, where they will eventually give birth to one pup. The colonies that these females become part of, will normally have anywhere around 30-60 bats, and this is generally at the start of the summer. Although, it has been known for these colonies to be larger. As these bats go from pregnancy to post-lactation the number of females in individual roosts starts to decrease. Within a maternity colony, the female bats will all generally give birth at roughly the same time, which is around late May or the beginning of June into late July. However, this does all depend on where the species range in the colony is located. After 18-21 days after birth the young bats will start to fly, the northern long-eared bat has a lifespan of around 18.5 years.
What These Bats Feed Upon and Where They Can Be Found
As with most bats, feeding time is at dusk, and this is the same for northern long-eared bats. Their sources of food includes caddisflies, moths, leafhoppers, flies and beetles, which they find as they fly through the forested area underneath the trees. They catch their food in flight, and use what is called echolocation or by gathering motionless insects which they find in the vegetation.
The northern long-eared bat can be found in the north central and eastern United States, they can also be found in all the provinces of Canada, west of the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the southern Yukon Territory, and even eastern British Columbia. The District of Columbia and 37 states are also in the northern long-eared bats range as well.
The Trouble That The Northern Long-Eared Bat is in
This disease is severe and an immediate threat to the northern long-eared bat. This disease is the reason why this bat is declining dramatically, if this hadn’t emerged then this bat would still be okay. The first time this disease was seen, was in 2006 in New York, since then it has rapidly spread from the Northwest, to the Southeast and even the Midwest; where unfortunately, the main range of the northern long-eared bat is and was a common sight, well before this disease took hold. Research taken from the hibernacula counts has shown that the decline of these bats is up to 99% within the Northeast. Although, they cannot be sure just how quickly this white-nose syndrome is spreading throughout the bats range, the future shows that it will eventually spread through the entire United States.
There have been structures and gates erected, in order to stop people from going into the mines and caves where the northern long-eared bat roost. However, these restrictions are affecting the bats movement, flight, their airflow which is being changed and the microclimates which are an internal part of the mines and caves. Just a sight change in the caves climate by just a few degrees, can turn a once habitable cave into an uninhabitable cave and not suitable for hibernating. Even the slightest disturbance from a human while the bats are hibernating can cause these bats distress and cause them to not survive the months of winter.
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Vital Information about the Northern Long-Eared Bat
There are many species of animal, that has become threatened and the northern long-eared bat is one of them, so much so that they are now under the Endangered Species Act. This bat has been put under this act, because it is an animal that is slowly becoming extinct. It is these animals and others that in the foreseeable future could possibly become endangered, so protecting, restoring and identifying these threatened species has become the Wildlife and the U.S. Fish Services primary objective.
The Northern Long-Eared Bat and What it is
What it looks like
With a body length between 3-3.7 inches and a 9-10 inches wingspan, the northern long-eared bat is of a medium size. The color of their fur on their back is dark or medium brown and their underside is tawny or pale-brown. This bat can be distinguished by its ears, which is why it was given the name long eared bat, and are especially long when compared to other bats.