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Virginia Big-eared Bat

Fact File

Scientific Name: Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus

Classification: Mammal, Order Chiroptera

Conservation Status:

Habitat: The Virginia big-eared bat is only found in a few counties in caves year round with wintering sites often different than summer maternity or bachelor roost sites.

Diet: The Virginia big-eared bat feeds over corn  fields, pastures, hay fields, small woodlots, and large forested tracts. Moths make up the largest part of their diet with beetles, flies, wasps, and hoppers adding to their prey.

Distribution: This species is a short-distance migrant that is believed to have a home range of approximately a 20-mile radius. However, they have been recorded moving up to 40 miles between summer and winter roosts.

Identifying Characteristics

The Virginia big-eared is the mountain version of Rafinesque’s big-eared bat. Adults measure approximately 3.75–4.25 inches in length and weigh 0.3–0.5 ounces. The ears of the big-eared bat are extremely large, measuring about 1.25 inches in length. The fur is long and soft with little contrast between the bases and tips of the hairs, presenting an overall brownish color that is slightly darker on the back. The Virginia big-eared bat is distinguished from Rafinesque’s by its buffy colored ventral fur and short toe hairs.

Virginia big-eared bat fur pattern (ventral and dorsal) and hind foot.

Maternity

Females generally raise young in maternity colonies separate from the males. The males can be found roosting individually in rocky crevices or caves. Reproduction occurs in late summer through early fall when males and females move to wintering sites. 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 3 weeks and are weaned at about 6 weeks of age.

Conservation

Primary threats are loss and degradation of hibernacula and summer roosts. Protection of hibernacula and summer roosts are conservation priorities.

Last updated: October 15, 2020

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