Brown longeared bat

Plecotus auritus

SUBFAMILY

Vespertilioninae

TAXONOMY

Plecotus auritus (Linnaeus, 1758), Sweden. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Whispering bat; French: Oreillard brun; German: Braunes Langohr; Spanish: Orejudo septentrional.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Adults range from 1.5 to 2 in (3.7-5 cm) in length, 0.18-0.42 oz (5-12 g) in weight, and 1.3-1.7 in (3.4-4.2 cm) in forearm length. Medium-sized, light-brown bat that rests with its long ears curled along its body or hidden beneath the wings. When outstretched, the ears are almost as long as the bat's body.

DISTRIBUTION

Throughout all but far southern Europe, east through temperate Asia to northern China and Nepal.

HABITAT

Open forests and park-like settings.

BEHAVIOR

During the summer, they roost individually or in nursery colonies in tree crevices or in buildings. Males often join the nursery colonies. They leave the roost for nighttime feeding well after sunset. They typically enter hibernation in late fall, opting to spend the winter in small crevices in trees or man-made structures, although they will sometimes hibernate in caves.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

A slow, but skillful flyer, this bat forages for insects in flight and by picking earwigs and spiders off of plants. Research has shown that this species uses taste and/or smell to select food items. Predators include ground mammals, such as house cats, that catch the bats while they are gleaning arthropods from vegetation.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Promiscuous; mating commonly occurs in fall and spring, with delayed fertilization in early breeding females. Young are born in early summer. Litter size is typically one altricial young per female. The young begin flying before they reach one month old and are weaned at about a month-and-a-half. Females become sexually mature their first year, and males the following spring.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

A bio-indicator species that is particularly sensitive to pesticides. ♦

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