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For information on Wisconsin's rare animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist

Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis)



Northern Long-eared Bat, (Myotis septentrionalis), a both state and federally threatened species in Wisconsin, is usually a dull or light brown color, with a gray underbelly. Habitat for the summer may include day roosts in buildings, under tree bark or shutters, or caves during the night. Hibernation sites are often in mines or caves, and this species may co-hibernate with other species. Foraging habitat includes forested hillsides and ridges, and small ponds or streams. Mating occurs in the fall with delayed fertilization in the spring, and one young produced between May and July.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Myotis septentrionalis in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusTHR
Federal Status in WisconsinLT
State RankS1S2
Global RankG1G2
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

Identification: The northern long-eared bat is a small bat with light to dark brown fur. The ears are long and when folded along side the head, they extend longer than 3 mm past the tip of the nose. The tragus is symmetrical, long and spear-like. This bat can be confused with Wisconsin's other Myotis species and should be closely inspected to distinguish between them.

Similar Species: Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus)

Habitat: Northern long-eared bats hibernate deep in crevices in caves and abandoned mines in winter. They prefer to hang alone rather than in clusters the way little brown bats do. In summer, reproductive females may form small maternity colonies in tree crevices and rarely under shingles and in buildings. Both sexes commonly roost in trees close the trunk under peeling bark in ashes and maples. They prefer to roost in tall trees with a dynamic forest structure that are in close proximity to wetlands or other riparian habitat. This species commonly forages within the forest interior, but also uses corridors and edge habitat.

State Distribution: Northern long-eared bats are found statewide, although they are never abundant.

Global Distribution: The northern long-eared bat ranges from Alaska down to northern Florida, but is absent from western United States.

Rationale for Species Listing and Threats: Like all cave-hibernating bats in Wisconsin, the northern long-eared bat is threatened with extinction by the fungal disease white-nose syndrome.

Diet: The diet of the northern long-eared bat consists of beetles, moths and flies, and these bats are often referred to as gleaning bats because they catch prey that is sitting on leaves and twigs rather than insects that are flying.

Life and Natural History: Northern long-eared bats hibernate in caves and abandoned mines from October to April. Breeding occurs in the fall before hibernation and sperm is stored in the uterus until the female emerges from hibernation in spring. The bats may make short migrations of up to 35 miles to summer roosting habitat. Females will from small maternity colonies up to 60 bats, and after a 60 day gestation period will give birth to usually one pup. The pup will begin to fly on its own after about three weeks. Males and non-reproductive females will roost alone in trees and snags, and roost fidelity is low with bats switching roosts every two to three days. Northern long-eared bats live up to 8 to 10 years in most cases, and sometimes live up to 18 years.



Northern Long-eared Bat

Photo © Dave Redell.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Northern Long-eared Bat. Only natural communities for which Northern Long-eared Bat is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Northern Long-eared Bat. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Northern Long-eared Bat occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

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Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

Ecological LandscapeCommunity
Central Sand Hills Central Sands Pine - Oak Forest
Central Sand Hills Coldwater streams
Central Sand Plains Caves and Subterranean Cultural
Central Sand Plains Central Sands Pine - Oak Forest
Forest Transition Coldwater streams
Forest Transition Coolwater streams
North Central Forest Coldwater streams
North Central Forest Coolwater streams
North Central Forest Ephemeral Pond
Northern Highland Coldwater streams
Northern Highland Coolwater streams
Northern Highland Emergent Marsh
Northern Highland Ephemeral Pond
Northern Highland Floating-leaved Marsh
Northern Highland Large Lake--deep, hard, seepage
Northern Highland Large Lake--deep, soft+, seepage
Northern Highland Large Lake--shallow, soft, drainage
Northern Highland Muskeg
Northern Highland Northern Dry Mesic--late seral
Northern Highland Northern Sedge Meadow
Northern Highland Open Bog
Northern Highland Poor Fen
Northern Highland Small Lake--other
Northern Highland Spring Pond, Lake--Spring
Northern Highland Springs and Spring Runs (Hard)
Northern Highland Springs and Spring Runs (Soft)
Northern Highland Submergent Marsh
Northern Highland Oligotrophic Marsh
Northern Highland Warmwater rivers
Northern Highland Warmwater streams
Southeast Glacial Plains Caves and Subterranean Cultural
Southeast Glacial Plains Ephemeral Pond
Superior Coastal Plain Coldwater streams
Superior Coastal Plain Coolwater streams
Western Coulee and Ridges Caves and Subterranean Cultural
Western Coulee and Ridges Coldwater streams
Western Coulee and Ridges Coolwater streams
Western Coulee and Ridges Emergent Marsh
Western Coulee and Ridges Floodplain Forest
Western Coulee and Ridges Hemlock Relict
Western Coulee and Ridges Lacustrine Mud Flat
Western Coulee and Ridges Oak Barrens
Western Coulee and Ridges Oak Woodland
Western Coulee and Ridges Riverine Lake - Pond
Western Coulee and Ridges Riverine Mud Flat
Western Coulee and Ridges Sand Barrens
Western Coulee and Ridges Shrub Carr
Western Coulee and Ridges Southern Dry Forest
Western Coulee and Ridges Southern Dry-mesic Forest
Western Coulee and Ridges Southern Mesic Forest
Western Coulee and Ridges Spring Pond, Lake--Spring
Western Coulee and Ridges Springs and Spring Runs (Hard)
Western Coulee and Ridges Springs and Spring Runs (Soft)
Western Coulee and Ridges Submergent Marsh
Western Coulee and Ridges Warmwater rivers

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

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Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

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Last revised: Thursday, May 04, 2017