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Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bat

Fact File

Scientific Name: Corynorhinus rafinesquii

Classification: Mammal, Order Chiroptera

Conservation Status:

Habitat: Rafinesque’s big-eared bat is a cave or tree bat depending on geographic location. Along the coast and in the southeastern U.S., Rafinesque’s big-eared bats roost in hollow trees and old buildings year round. However, farther north and west up the Appalachian mountains, they can be found in caves and mines.

Diet: Like the Virginia big-eared bat, moths make up to 90% of the diet of  Rafinesque’s big-eared bats, with beetles and other flying insects comprising the rest of their diet.

Distribution: In Virginia, Rafinesque’s big-eared bats are found in bottomland hardwoods and swamps in the Coastal Plain.

Identifying Characteristics

Rafinesque’s big-eared bat is our coastal version of the Virginia big-eared bat. Adults measure approximately 3.6–4.2 inches in length and weigh
0.25–0.45 ounces. The ears of the big-eared bat are extremely large, measuring about 1.25 inches in length. The fur is long, soft, and bicolored. The belly fur is tipped with white, providing silvery contrast to the gray-brown fur on the back. Rafinesque’s and Virginia big-eared bats are almost identical, separated by the long bicolored fur and toe hairs that reach beyond the tips of the claws in Rafinesque’s big-eared bat.

Rafinesque’s big-eared bat fur pattern (ventral and dorsal) and hind foot.

Reproduction

Reproduction occurs in fall through winter when males and females move to their  wintering sites. Females will form maternity groups of a few to as many as 100 individuals. Through delayed fertilization, a single litter is produced in late spring or early summer (early June through mid-July). Gestation is about 55 to 100 days; the young begin to fly at about three weeks, and are weaned at about 6 weeks of age.

Conservation

Primary threats are loss and degradation of coastal bottomland hardwood forests. Conservation actions are tied to protection and enhancement of bottomland hardwood forests.

Last updated: October 14, 2020

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