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Northern Long-eared Bat

The Northern Long-eared Bat is found in many regions of Canada. Although there are numerous records of its presence in eastern Canada and the United States, it has only been recorded once in awhile in the west. Presently, the Northern Long-eared Bat is on the Blue List of species that may be at risk in Alberta.

This particular type of bat has two homes: a winter hibernation home as well as a summer resting and food finding home. The Northern Long-eared Bat hibernates in caves or abandoned mines during the cold winter months. Within a cave the northern Long-eared bat intermingles with other species of bats, but forms a small proportion of the total hibernating population. Thus, hibernating Northern Long-eared Bats are never abundant.

During the summer months the Bats commonly use crevices behind peeling bark or cavities in partially-decayed trees as summer day rest spots. Within thick forests, summer activity may be focused along streams, creeks and small ponds. Similarly, activity may also be high near artificial light sources such as streetlights and yard lights in association with the increased availability of night-flying insects.

Unlike other small mammals the Northern Long-eared Bat are relatively long lived. The record age of a Northern Long-eared Bat in the wild is 19 years. Also in contrast to most small mammals, each female bat produces only one young each year. Most deaths in North American bat species occurs in the juvenile age class and many pups do not survive their first year. Additional deaths occur during the hibernation period. If winters harsh, or if bats cannot obtain the fat reserves necessary to survive this period, they may starve. Juveniles are particularly vulnerable during hibernation because they have relatively short time after their birth to build up fat reserves.

Like all bat species in Canada, the Northern Long-eared Bat feeds only on insects. These bats are generally insectivores, and their diet is limited only by the size of the insects they are capable of catching. Although moths and beetles make up the majority of their diet, mosquitos, black flies, and other noxious pests also are consumed. The disappearance of suitable food following killing frosts in the fall is the main signal to start hibernation.

Parasites and diseases probably have minimal impact in most insectivorous bat species. However, bats can become infected with rabies virus and thus pose a public health concern. Rabies virus can cause fatal infections in all warm-blooded mammals and birds and is a concern for public safety and livestock health throughout the world.

To learn more about other species at risk in Alberta click here.

Northern Long-eared Bat

Northern Long-eared Bat