12 Types of Bats in Florida (With Pictures)


Bats in Florida

With a rodent-like appearance and forelimbs adapted into wings, the bats are a species of mammals that can truly fly. They can be found in almost every part of the world and are mostly nocturnal. Over 1,300 recognized species of bats on Earth and 12 of them can be spotted in Florida.

In this article, we will learn more about these bats and their identification:

 

Commonly Found Bat Species in Florida

Seminole Bat (Lasiurus seminolus)

Seminole Bat (Lasiurus seminolus)

Conservation status: least concern
Body length: 10.8-11.4 centimeters (4.25-4.48 inches)
Wingspan: 28-33 centimeters (11-13 inches)
Weight: 12 grams
Lifespan: unknown

The Seminole Bats belong to the Vespertilionid bats family that is closely related to the Eastern Red Bats.

Appearance: These bats are sexually dimorphic in size, with the females being slightly larger and heavier than the males. Apart from this difference, both sexes are similar. The color of their body is mahogany with a paler underside. However, due to their white-tipped dorsal hair, they appear to have a somewhat frosted look. Their chest and throat have a whitish coloration as well.

Habitat and range: The Seminole Bats prefer to inhabit lowland forests, particularly with an abundance of pine trees, from which they like to hang. Although they prefer hanging alone, you can find them hanging together occasionally.

In the United States, they are found in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. These bats are migratory in nature and spend their winters along the Gulf Coast, Arkansas, and North and South Carolina.

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Diet: Being insectivores, the Seminole Bats mainly feed on beetles, moths, ants, bees, and wasps. Occasionally, they can eat cicadas and flies as well.

 

Evening Bat (Nycticeius humeralis)

Evening Bat (Nycticeius humeralis)

Conservation status: least concern
Body length: 7-9 centimeters (3-3.8 inches)
Wingspan: 26-28 centimeters (10-11 inches)
Weight: 6-14 grams
Lifespan: about 2-5 years

The Evening Bats are a species of vesper batsOpens in a new tab. that are endemic to North America.

Appearance: These bats are often confused for being juvenile Big Brown Bats because of the similarity between both species except their size. They lack sexual dimorphism, with both sexes appearing similar. The color of their entire body is dark brown except for their black ears.

They have dog-like muzzles with facial glands that are more pronounced than in other vesper bats. Most of their body is covered with grey-tipped hair, except their wings, tail membrane, and snout, which are hairless.

Habitat and range: Other than forests, the Evening Bats prefer to inhabit wetlands and river corridors. These bats are not the kind that roosts in caves and is instead found in abandoned buildings, tree hollows, etc.

Although these bats were earlier believed to be a southeastern bat species, it was later found that their population has a wide distribution in the United States. However, during winters, they disappear from the northernmost regions of the country, which indicates that they are migratory.

Diet: The Evening Bats have a diverse diet and feed on beetles, leafhoppers, moths, and flies. They usually catch their prey mid-flight but tend to follow other bats to a food source if they can’t manage to find it independently.

 

Northern Yellow Bat (Lasiurus intermedius)

Northern Yellow Bat (Lasiurus intermedius)

Conservation status: least concern
Body length: 14 centimeters (5.51 inches)
Wingspan: 35-41 centimeters (13.7-16.1 inches)
Weight: 14-31 grams
Lifespan: unknown

The Northern Yellow Bats are the members of the vesper bat family that are endemic to the United States.

Appearance: Just as their name suggests, these bats have black-tipped fur ranging from yellowish-orange to yellowish-brown in color on the anterior half of their body. They have a short neck and elongated hands, with their wing membranes being hairless and darker in color. There is minimal difference noticed between both sexes.

Habitat and range: The Northern Yellow Bats are usually found in one of the two habitats: coastal regions and forests with a water body nearby. The Spanish moss and palm trees are two of their primary roosting spots.
These bats are distributed in the southeastern regions of the United States, their range extending from Virginia to Florida.

Diet: Being nocturnal, these bats are usually seen hunting for food in the dusk, pastures, golf courses, lake, and forest edges. Their primary diet includes ants, dragonflies, mosquitoes, leafhoppers, and diving beetles.

 

Southeastern Myotis (Mytois austroriparius)

Southeastern Myotis (Mytois austroriparius)

Conservation status: least concern
Body length: 4.5-5.3 centimeters (1.8-2.1 inches)
Wingspan: 22-27 centimeters (9-11 inches)
Weight: 5-8 grams
Lifespan: about 4-8 years

The Southeastern Myotis is a small species of mouse-eared bats that belong to the family of microbats.

Appearance: Although these bats are small in size, they have thick, woolly fur that is dark in the base and white on the tip. Most of them tend to molt in the late summers, shedding their lighter fur coat for a greyer one.

They display sexual dimorphism, with the males being smaller in size and possessing slightly smaller forearms. The females are also heavier than their male counterparts.

The best way to distinguish these bats from the other myotis species is by their toe-hairs that are unusually long and surpass even their claws.

Habitat and range: The Southeastern Myotis are primarily cave bats and prefer to roost in caves if they can find suitable ones. However, they have also adapted to man-made structures in the absence of caves, such as mines, bridges, attics, and barns.

Just as their name suggests, these bats are more often found in the southeastern parts of the United States, such as Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, and North Carolina. A large part of their total population in the country inhabits Florida.

Diet: Southeastern Myotis are nocturnal bats that come out to hunt for food in the dark, usually fly low over the water bodies hoping to catch their prey in flight. They primarily feed on small moths, cane flies, mosquitoes, and beetles.

 

Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis)

Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis)

Conservation status: least concern
Body length: 9.5-11.4 centimeters (3.75-4.5 inches)
Wingspan: 29-33 centimeters (11.4-12.9 inches)
Weight: 7-13 grams
Lifespan: about 2 years

The Eastern Red Bats are a microbat species that are found in abundance in the eastern parts of North America.

Appearance: These bats have a medium-sized body and display sexual dimorphism, with the dorsal fur color of the males ranging between brick-red and rusty red, while the females have a frosted red fur.

Both sexes have white patches of fur on their shoulder. The fur on their ventral parts is slightly lighter in color. Moreover, they have short but rounded ears, long, pointed wings, and a long tail. The Eastern Red Bats are thickly furred to withstand the cold climates.

Habitat and range: These bats avoid areas heavily populated by humans and generally inhabit the forest regions. They are migratory and travel south to the warmer regions during winters.

Diet: The Eastern Red Bats are insectivores and feed on ants, beetles, flies, moths, and plant-hoppers.

 

Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis)

Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis)

Conservation status: least concern
Body length: 8.8-10 centimeters (3.5-4 inches)
Wingspan: 28 centimeters (11 inches)
Weight: 13 grams
Lifespan: about 11 years

Also referred to as the Mexican Free-tailed Bat, the Brazilian Free-tailed Bats are members of the Molossidae family. These bats are endemic to the Americas.

Appearance: The Brazilian Free-tailed Bats have a medium-sized body with brown fur and unusually large ears. They also have a short snout with a wrinkled upper lip and a characteristic free-tail. The wings of these bats are long, narrow, and pointed, making them well-suited for a direct flight. Sexual dimorphism is absent in these species.

Habitat and range: The Brazilian Free-tailed Bats are flexible with diverse roosting habitats such as caves, attics, bridges, and other man-made structures. They are also somewhat social and interact with other bats in their roosts.

These bats can be found in most parts of Central America and are abundant in the southern half of the United States. In South America, they are found in Brazilian coasts and highlands, the Peruvian coast, northern Chile and Andes, and Argentina’s central parts.

Diet: Being primarily insectivores, the Brazilian Free-tailed Bats are known for hunting their prey through echolocation. Beetles, dragonflies, true bugs, moths, ants, and wasps comprise their main diet.

 

Less Common Bat Species in Florida

Florida Bonneted Bat (Eumops floridanus)

Florida Bonneted Bat (Eumops floridanus)

Conservation status: vulnerable
Body length: 15.24 centimeters (6 inches)
Wingspan: 50 centimeters (20 inches)
Weight: 40-65 grams
Lifespan: about 5-10 years

Also referred to as the Florida Mastiff Bat, the Florida Bonneted Bats belong to the Molossidae family. These bats are among the most critically endangered mammal species in North America. They are endemic to southern Florida, where they are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Appearance: Of all the bat species you can find in Florida, the Florida Bonneted Bats are by far the largest. They have short but shiny fur that ranges from brownish-grey to cinnamon-brown in color, with the base being lighter in color than the tip.

Moreover, they have large, forward-facing ears that give their head the characteristic bonnet-like appearance. Although both sexes have a similar body mass, the males have wings that are longer and wider than their female counterparts.

Habitat and range: Being native to southern Florida, the Florida Bonneted Bats are found in the counties of Miami-Dade, Monroe, Polk, Collier, Okeechobee, and Charlotte. They usually inhabit agricultural areas where there is more rainfall.

Diet: The Florida Bonneted Bats are insectivores and primarily feed on true bugs, flies, and beetles.

 

Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)

Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)

Conservation status: least concern
Body length: 13-14.5 centimeters (5.1-5.7 inches)
Wingspan: 40 centimeters (15.5 inches)
Weight: 26 grams
Lifespan: about 14 years

The Hoary Bats are a species of vesper bats that are found throughout the North and South Americas.

Appearance: The Hoary Bats’ body is about as big as a fat mouse, with small, beaded eyes and a rounded nose. Their ears are short, thick, and round. The fur coat of these bats is dark, dense, and brown in color with white tips that gives them a ‘hoary’ appearance.

Although both sexes are similar in appearance and size, the females are about 40% heavier than their male counterparts.

Habitat and range: The Hoary Bats prefer to inhabit both heavy forests and open wooded glades. They are widespread in the entire United States, with their population is recorded in all 50 states.

Diet: The main diet of the Hoary Bats comprises of moths, although they are also known to feed on beetles, grasshoppers, flies, termites, and small wasps.

 

Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)

Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)

Conservation status: least concern
Body length: 10-13 centimeters (4.3-5.1 inches)
Wingspan: 32.5-35 centimeters (12.8-13.8 inches)
Weight: 15-26 grams
Lifespan: about 19 years

Larger and heavier than all the other microbat species, the Big Brown Bats are found across North America, northern South America, and the Caribbean.

Appearance: These bats have a large body with glossy, reddish-brown fur covering their dorsal body, while the fur on their ventral surface is lighter in color. Their wing membranes, flight membranes, and snout are black in color and have no hair on them. Their ears are black as well and have rounded tips. Both sexes are similar in appearance; only the females are slightly larger in size.

Habitat and range: The Big Brown Bats are not much of a forest-dwellers and usually inhabit towns, cities, and rural areas. Their range extends from southern parts of Canada, throughout temperate North America, Central America, towards northern parts of South America and the West Indies.

Diet: Big Brown Bats have powerful jaws to bite through the hard exoskeleton of the beetles that make up their main diet. Other than the beetles, they are also known to feed on lacewing flies, wasps, flying ants, moths, and dragonflies.

 

Gray Bat (Myotis grisescens)

Gray Bat (Myotis grisescens)

Conservation status: vulnerable
Body length: 8.9 centimeters (3.5 inches)
Wingspan: 22-27 centimeters (9-11 inches)
Weight: 7-16 grams
Lifespan: about 17 years

Also known as Gray Myotis, the Gray Bats are a microbat species that are native to North America.

Appearance: Of all the myotis or mouse-eared bats found in the eastern United States, the Gray Bats are the largest.

Habitat and range: Being cave-bats, the Gray Bats keep their habitats restricted to the caves or cave-like areas. In the United States, they are found in abundance in the southeastern regions such as Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Alabama. Their sightings in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, and Virginia are less frequent.

Diet: The Gray Bats are nocturnal insectivores and usually forage in streams and reservoirs to catch small, flying aquatic insects. Other prey includes bugs, leafhoppers, wasps, thrips, stoneflies, dragonflies, and lacewings.

 

Velvety Free-Tailed Bat (Molossus molossus)

Velvety Free-Tailed Bat (Molossus molossus)

Conservation status: least concern
Body length: 10 centimeters (4 inches)
Wingspan: 28-33 (11-13 inches)
Weight: 5-14 grams
Lifespan: unknown

Often referred to as Pallas’s Mastiff Bats, the Velvety Free-tailed Bats are a species of molossids in the Americas.

Appearance: These bats have a medium-sized, brown-colored body with large, rounded ears. However, if you spot them flying around in the dusk, they appear almost black. Like the rest of the Free-tailed Bats, their tail extends well beyond its membrane. Both sexes appear somewhat alike and have little dimorphism.

Habitat and range: You can spot the Velvety Free-tailed Bats in the Florida Keys in the United States and Cuba, Mexico, and Argentina.

Diet: These bats forage near streams and ponds, over tree canopies and forest edges, hunting for moths, flying ants, and beetles.

 

Rafinesque’s Big-Eared Bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii)

Rafinesque’s Big-Eared Bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii)

Conservation status: least concern
Body length: 7.5-10 centimeters (3-3.9 inches)
Wingspan: 25-30 centimeters (10-12 inches)
Weight: 6-13 grams
Lifespan: about 10 years

Also referred to as the Southeastern Big-eared Bats, The Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bats are a microbat species endemic to the southeastern parts of the United States.

Appearance: As you can gather from their name, the Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bats have ears that are over an inch long, much larger in comparison with the rest of their medium-sized body.

They have a grey upper body with whitish undersides, while their face and ears are pinkish-brown in color. Their forearms and wing membrane are darker than the rest of their body. Both sexes look alike; only the females are slightly larger in size.

Habitat and range: Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bats inhabit bottomland hardwoods, oak-hickory forests, open field edges, streams, and swamp edges. These bats are abundant in most of the south-central as well as southeastern parts of the United States.

Diet: The Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bats are insectivores and feed on a wide variety of insects, including beetles, mosquitoes, flies, and moths.

 

Conclusion: Types of Bats in Florida

Out of all the 12 bat species, 6 heavily populate the state of Florida, while the remaining six are less commonly seen. Almost all of these bats belong to the family of vesper bats, except for Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bats. The next time you spot any bat around you, you might have a better chance at identifying them.

 

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