Types Of Bats In Oklahoma
In all, there are over 1000 species of bats in the world, about 45 common species in the United States, and about 22 species in Oklahoma. Common types of bats found in Oklahoma include the Big Brown bat, the Little Brown bat, the Red Tree Bat, and the Mexican Free-tailed bat.
Through the years, popular literature, myths, and movies, along with the bat's sometimes sinister appearance, have given bats a reputation as something to be feared. However, under the proper circumstances, they can be quite beneficial. For instance, some bats can consume thousands of mosquitoes in just one night and others such as fruit bats help pollinate crops and vegetation.
In Oklahoma, the Brown bat and the Red Tree bat are quite common, particularly in the Tulsa area. The Mexican Free tailed is also found in Oklahoma but is most prevalent in the western half of the state.
The two Brown bat species, the Big Brown bat and the Little Brown bat, are sometimes referred to as "house bats". The Big Brown bat is larger and has long silky fur, whereas the Little Brown bat has shorter hair and a smaller nose. Both species can be affected by White Nose Syndrome, a fungus with a high mortality rate that seems to target primarily hibernating bats. The disease has caused an alarming decline in bat populations across the United States, particularly the Northeast.
In general, bat species can differ in several ways, including how (or if) they hibernate, type of fur, coloring, flight capabilities, roosting preferences, hunting preferences, habitat, mating behavior and diet habits.
Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifigus)
This brown species, a hibernating type of bat of the genus Myotis, can consume over 1,200 insects an hour. They measure between 3 to 3.5 inches head to tail, their wingspan is 8.7" to 11" across. They are olive-brown to dark-yellow brown in color and have large mouse like ears.
Little Brown bats have a gestation period of 50 to 60 days and mothers usually only have one baby, also called a pup, which is born sometime between late May to early July.
Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)
About four to five inches in length, the "big" brown bat can have a wingspan of twelve to thirteen inches across. Their animal fur, or hair if you prefer, is rather long, and can range in color from a shiny brown, to pinkish tans, to rich chocolates or even an olive buff color.
The Big Brown bat in the photo below was discovered by The Skunk Whisperer® while working on a bat exclusion job in Tulsa.
Like the Little Brown bat, Big Brown bats also have ears similar to that of a mouse. Big Brown bats usually have one to two babies at a time, which are also called pups. Big Brown bat pups are born in late May or early June and their gestation period is around 60 to 80 days.
Mexican Free-tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis)
The Mexican Free-tailed bat is often called the "farmer's friend" because they feed on insects that otherwise might be a problem for crops.
Mexican Free-tailed bat colonies can grow quite large, the colony in Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas is said to contain over 20 million.
The below photo shows what is said to be the largest urban bat colony in the world, found under the Congress Street bridge in Austin, Texas. Each night over 1.5 million Mexican Free-tailed bats fly out from under the bridge as tourist and locals alike watch them take off for the night.
The large concentration of Mexican Free-tailed bats in Texas alone can consume over 1,000 tons of insects a night. Colors range from dark brown to grey. Their unique tail gave them their name, as it protrudes freely beyond the tail membrane. Free-tails have one young, and give birth between the first and third weeks of June.
The Eastern Pipistrelle (Perimyotis subflavus)
The Eastern Pipistrelle, sometimes referred to as the Tri-colored Bat, is a common bat species spanning the eastern half of the United States reaching west into the eastern half of Oklahoma.
The Pipistrelle habitat includes caves, mines and buildings with minimal airflow, and they are one of the most prevalent types of bats found in caves across the eastern part of the United States.
The Pipistrelle tends to be loyal to their hibernation sites and may return to the same place every winter of their lives. Between early August and late October, the Pipistrelle can often be spotted swarming around cave openings as they prepare to go into hibernation for the winter.
Other Types Of Bats In Oklahoma
Other types of bats in Oklahoma found in different parts of the state include but are not limited to the Red, Seminole, Gray, Pallid, Ozark, Cave, and Small-footed varieties.
The Red Bat, which is one of the more common types of bats in Oklahoma, typically lives in trees and foliage. Its color helps it blend in with the trees and foliage in which it resides, and it can even be mistaken for a leaf as it hangs from the branches of a tree.
The Seminole Bat is a medium size bat similar in appearance to the Red Bat. The Seminole has not been studied as thoroughly as some other bat species, but it is believed to be attracted to forest habitats where Spanish moss growth is plentiful. The Seminole is not a hibernating bat, but rather it goes into a Torpor, a state of inactivity, when the atmosphere drops to a certain temperature and humidity. Weather permitting, they fly throughout the year and it is not unusual to spot one on a warm winter's day.
The Pallid bat is visually distinctive sporting long, wide, and very noticeable ears. Pallid bats like to hunt ground insects such as scorpions and crickets, as opposed to flying insects such as mosquitoes.
The Ozark Big-eared bat is an endangered, cave dwelling species found primarily in Arkansas, Missouri and Northeastern Oklahoma.
Other kinds of bats in Oklahoma include, but are not limited to, the Small-footed, Cave, Indiana, Yuna, Silver-haired and Gray varieties.
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