[AR T&E Species Home]
Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)
Listed: March 11, 1967 (under the Endangered Species Protection Act of 1966)
For questions regarding the Indiana Bat in Arkansas, please contact Tommy Inebnit at email@example.com or 501-513-4483.
Indiana bats are quite small, weighing only one-quarter of an ounce (about the weight of three pennies) although in flight they have a wingspan of 9 to 11 inches. Their fur is dark-brown to black. They hibernate during winter in caves or, occasionally, in abandoned mines. During summer they roost under the peeling bark of dead and dying trees.
The bats typically prey on flying insects. They forage along river and lake shorelines, in the crowns of trees in floodplains, and in upland forest. They forage in riparian areas, upland forests, and above ponds and fields. The foraging habitat for an Indiana bat includes an airspace 6-100 feet above a stream and a linear distance of 0.5 mile.
Bats are the only major predator of night flying insects; a single bat can consume between 600 - 1200 mosquitoes and other insects in just one hour. A nursing female can eat more than her body weight in insects in one night—up to 4,500 mosquitoes and other insects. Bats also consume pests such as the cucumber beetle and corn earworm moth, both of which can cause millions of dollars in crop damage each year. Other species of bats are important pollinators and seed dispersers.
They hibernate in the coldest (40- 46 F) sections of limestone caves with pools and shallow passageways in the karst region of Arkansas. In the summer and fall, colonies roost in dead or dying trees or in tree cavities exposed to direct sunlight on wooded or semi-wooded areas on upper slopes and ridge tops near the hibernacula during the day. Males use the hibernacula at night.
The Indiana Bat lives in forested wetland, riparian habitats that include hardwood and mixed forest woodlands. Colonies have been found in dead, hollow, unshaded trees on pasturelands. Known roost tree species include elm, oak, beech, hickory, maple, ash, sassafras, birch, sycamore, locust, cottonwood, and pine, especially when these trees have exfoliating bark. Indiana bats use the same roost sites in successive summers.
Why is it Endangered?
The Indiana bat was listed as endangered in 1967 primarily due to people disturbing hibernating bats in caves during winter, resulting in the death of large numbers of bats. Indiana bats are vulnerable to disturbance because they hibernate in large numbers in only a few caves (the largest hibernation caves support from 20,000 to 50,000 bats). Other threats that have contributed to the Indiana bat's decline include commercialization of caves, loss of summer habitat through deforestation, pesticides and other contaminants, and most recently, the fungal disease white-nose syndrome (WNS).
WNS was detected in Arkansas in 2014 and may affect the Indiana bat population.
Check the links in the sidebar to learn more about WNS.
Many private and public caves have been closed to public access to reduce stress and/or damage to bats and their habitats and to prevent the further spread of WNS in Arkansas. Cave gates that limit human disturbance of the bats and/or their habitat are a good way to protect these animals. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife program can help provide funding and expertise if you are interested in protecting your property from trespassing and vandalism with a gate over the cave mouth. Contact Joe Krystofik at firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-513-4478 for more information about cave gates and cave protection.
Efforts are also being made to educate people about WNS and WNS decontamination procedures to reduce the risk of transmission of the the fungus to other bats and/or habitats. You can find the full decontamination guidelines here.
You can learn more about Indiana bat recovery in the Indiana Bat 5-year Review.
Range in Arkansas: