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Photo submitted by USFWS

Photo submitted by ADCNR

Keith Hudson


Description: The scientific name of the Indiana bat is Myotis sodalis and it is an accurate description of the species. Myotis means “mouse ear” and refers to the relatively small, mouse-like ears of the bats in this group. Sodalis is the Latin word for “companion.” The Indiana bat is a very social species; large numbers cluster together during hibernation. The species is called the Indiana bat because the first specimen described to science in 1928 was based on a specimen found in southern Indiana's Wyandotte Cave in 1904. The Indiana bat is quite small, weighing only one-quarter of an ounce (about the weight of three pennies). In flight, it has a wingspan of 9 to 11 inches. The fur is dark-brown to black. The Indiana bat is similar in appearance to many other related species. Biologists can distinguish it from similar species by comparing characteristics such as the structure of the foot and color variations in the fur.


Range: Indiana bats are found over most of the eastern half of the United States. Almost half of all Indiana bats (207,000 in 2005) hibernate in caves in southern Indiana. In 2005, other states which supported populations of over 40,000 included Missouri (65,000), Kentucky (62,000), Illinois (43,000) and New York (42,000). Other states within the current range of the Indiana bat include Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia. The 2005 population estimate is about 457,000 Indiana bats, half as many as when the species was listed as endangered in 1967.


Habitat: Indiana bats hibernate during winter in caves or, occasionally, in abandoned mines. For hibernation, they require cool, humid caves with stable temperatures, under 50° F but above freezing. Very few caves within the range of the species have these conditions. Hibernation is an adaptation for survival during the cold winter months when no insects are available for bats to eat. Bats must store energy in the form of fat before hibernating. During the six months of hibernation the stored fat is their only source of energy. If bats are disturbed or cave temperatures increase, more energy is needed and hibernating bats may starve. After hibernation, Indiana bats migrate to their summer habitat in wooded areas where they usually roost under loose tree bark on dead or dying trees. During summer, males roost alone or in small groups, while females roost in larger groups of up to 100 bats or more. Indiana bats also forage in or along the edges of forested areas.


Description: Gray bats are distinguished from other bats by the unicolored fur on their back. In addition, following their molt in July or August, gray bats have dark gray fur which often bleaches to a chestnut brown or russet. They weigh 7-16 grams. The bat's wing membrane connects to its ankle instead of at the toe, where it is connected in other species of Myotis.


Range:The gray bat occupies a limited geographic range in limestone karst areas of the southeastern United States. They are mainly found in Alabama, northern Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee. A few can be found in northwestern Florida, western Georgia, southeastern Kansas, southern Indiana, southern and southwestern Illinois, northeastern Oklahoma, northeastern Mississippi, western Virginia, and possibly western North Carolina.


Habitat: With rare exceptions, gray bats live in caves year-round. During the winter gray bats hibernate in deep, vertical caves. In the summer, they roost in caves which are scattered along rivers. These caves are in limestone karst areas of the southeastern United States. They do not use houses or barns.



Additional Bat Links

2014 Summer Survey Guidance - A team of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists, with help from interested parties, developed new rangewide guidance for conducting summer surveys for Indiana bats.

Alabama Bat Working Group - The Alabama Bat Working Group was formed in February 2009 to bring together individuals, organizations, and agencies interested in conserving Alabama's bat species.

Bat Watching - Places to View Bats in Alabama

White-Nose Syndrome - White-nose syndrome is a disease affecting hibernating bats. Named for the white fungus that appears on the muzzle and other body parts of hibernating bats, WNS is associated with extensive mortality of bats in eastern North America.


Last updated: February 10, 2014