Vermont’s wooded hills and valleys provide the perfect habitat for a diversity of bat species. As the sun sets over the Green Mountains, these fascinating nocturnal creatures emerge from their roosts, ready to take to the night skies. Their high-pitched echolocation fills the air as they dart after insect prey. Vermont bats come in a range of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some roost in colonies while others nest alone. From the tiny tri-colored bat to the hoary bat with its frosted fur, Vermont’s bats play a vital role in their forest ecosystems. Read on to learn more about the ten most common bat species that call the Green Mountain State home.
|Bat Name||Description||Interesting Facts|
|Little Brown Bat||Small brown bat with 8-11 inch wingspan. Forages for insects. Roosts in caves, trees, buildings. Hibernates in winter.||Populations declining due to white-nose syndrome.|
|Big Brown Bat||Larger brown bat with 12-16 inch wingspan. Eats variety of insects. Roosts in buildings and trees. Hibernates in winter.||Uses echolocation to hunt insects while flying.|
|Northern Long-Eared Bat||Medium bat with long ears. Roosts in live and dead trees. Hibernates in caves. Severe population decline.||Ears extend past nose when folded forward.|
|Eastern Red Bat||Vermont’s largest bat with red fur and 13 inch wingspan. Roosts alone in foliage. Migrates south for winter.||Starts foraging before sunset.|
|Hoary Bat||Large bat with frosted fur. Solitary and roosts in foliage. Migratory bat.||One of the largest Vermont bats.|
|Silver-Haired Bat||Named for silver fur. Roosts under bark and in hollows. Migrates south in winter.||May roost in small groups while hibernating.|
|Tri-Colored Bat||Small bat with brown, gray and white fur. Roosts in trees and buildings. Hibernates in caves.||Named for habit of foraging near water.|
|Evening Bat||Medium-sized reddish brown bat. Emerges at dusk to forage. Roosts in trees. Migrates south in winter.||Feeds on beetles and moths.|
|Indiana Bat||Small endangered bat that roosts in colonies under bark. Hibernates in caves. Population declining.||Form large colonies while roosting.|
|Eastern Small-Footed Bat||Small bat with tiny feet. Roosts on cliff faces. Hibernates in caves. Severe decline from white-nose syndrome.||Gleans insects from vegetation.|
Table of Contents
1. Little Brown Bat
The little brown bat is one of the most common bats found in Vermont. With a wingspan of 8 to 11 inches, these small bats have brown fur and weigh only 1/4 to 1/2 an ounce. They use echolocation to locate insects while in flight. Little brown bats roost in caves, mines, hollow trees, and buildings. They mate in the fall before going into hibernation for the winter. Due to white-nose syndrome, little brown bat populations have declined significantly in recent years. However, they remain one of the most widespread bats in the state.
2. Big Brown Bat
Slightly larger than the little brown bat, the big brown bat has a wingspan of 12 to 16 inches. These bats are identified by their brown, glossy fur. Big brown bats eat a variety of night-flying insects like moths, beetles, and mosquitoes. They use abandoned buildings, rock crevices, and hollow trees as roosts. This species mates in the fall before the females migrate to hibernation sites. Big brown bats use echo location to hunt prey. They emit sound pulses and listen for the echoes to find and capture insects while in flight.
3. Northern Long-Eared Bat
The northern long-eared bat is medium-sized with a body length of 3 to 3.7 inches and a wingspan of 9 to 10 inches. Their fur is medium to dark brown on the back and tawny to pale-brown on the underside. As their name suggests, these bats have long ears that extend past their nose when folded forward. They forage in the open and in forested landscapes. Northern long-eared bats roost in cavities or crevices of live and dead trees during summer. They hibernate in caves and mines in winter. This species has seen severe population declines from white-nose syndrome.
4. Eastern Red Bat
Eastern red bats are aptly named for their distinctive red fur. They are migratory, traveling south for winter. With a wingspan up to 13 inches, these are Vermont’s largest bat species. They roost in leafy foliage of deciduous trees and shrubs by hanging from one foot. Eastern red bats are solitary and roost alone unlike other species. They emerge early to forage compared to other bats, typically an hour before sunset. These bats primarily eat moths but also prey on other flying insects like crickets, beetles, and flies.
5. Hoary Bat
The hoary bat has dark brown, gray, and white fur that gives it a “frosted” appearance. They have a wingspan of 14 to 16 inches making them one of the largest bats in Vermont. Hoary bats roost primarily in trees usually at the edge of clearings. They are solitary and typically roost alone on branches underneath leaf cover. These bats are migratory and travel to southern U.S states or Mexico for the winter. They hunt moths, flies, crickets, beetles, and other insects while in flight using echolocation.
6. Silver-Haired Bat
Silver-haired bats get their name from the silver sheen of their gray, black, and white fur. They have a wingspan of 9.5 to 11.5 inches. They use their high frequency echolocation while hunting for moths and other insects. This species roosts in woodlands, usually under loose tree bark or in tree hollows. Silver-haired bats migrate south for winter. They prefer to forage in forest openings and along edges. While roosting, they may gather in small groups but otherwise are solitary.
7. Tri-Colored Bat
The tri-colored bat is a small bat with a wingspan of 9 to 10 inches and weight of just 1/8 to 1/2 an ounce. As the name suggests, their fur comes in three colors: dark brown or black, pale gray, and creamy white. This species gets its Latin name eastern pipistrelle from its habit of foraging around water. Tri-colored bats feed on small insects like mosquitoes, flies, moths, and beetles. They roost in hollow trees and buildings in warm months and hibernate in mines and caves in winter.
8. Evening Bat
The medium-sized evening bat has reddish to dark-brown fur. They have a wingspan of approximately 10 inches. As the name hints, they are active late in the day, typically emerging around dusk to forage. Evening bats feed primarily on beetles and moths while in flight using echolocation. They roost in tree cavities and under loose bark singly or in small colonies. These bats migrate south to spend winter in caves or mines.
9. Indiana Bat
Indiana bats are small, only weighing 1/4 to 1/2 an ounce, with a wingspan averaging 9.5 inches. They have dark gray to chestnut brown fur. This endangered species tends to roost in large colonies underneath peeling bark of dead and dying trees. Indiana bats forage for flying insects like moths, flies, mosquitoes, and beetles over streams, ponds, and along treelines. They hibernate in caves or mines during winter. Due to disturbance of their winter habitats, Indiana bat numbers have declined steeply.
10. Eastern Small-Footed Bat
The eastern small-footed bat is aptly named for its small feet and claws that are much smaller than other bat species in Vermont. They weigh just 1/8 to 1/4 an ounce with a wingspan of 9 to 10 inches. Their fur is glossy and ranges from dark brown to blackish-brown. As they forage for insects, eastern small-footed bats glean motionless prey from vegetation rather than catching them in flight. They roost under rocks and in fissures on cliff faces and talus slopes. These bats hibernate in mines and caves during winter. Due to their small winter colonies, white-nose syndrome has severely impacted this species.