Scientific Name: Lasiurus cinereus
Hoary bats typically weigh between 20 and 35 grams, 13 to 15 cm in length and have a wingspan of 43 cm, being the largest of the eastern bats. These bats are known for the white tips on the end of their brown-gray hairs, giving them a frosted look. Hoary bats have large, strong teeth and a broad skull. Hoary bats, like other tree bats, possess the ability to open their jaws 180 degrees, giving them strong bite force.
Hoary bats are found in all 50 states, making them the most widespread bat in the US. They are the only bat species found in Hawaii. Their range spans from Canada to Guatemala, as well as throughout South America. While hoary bats have been found in places like Bermuda, Scotland, and Iceland, their populations are most abundant in warmer climates in the western US. They spend much of the winter in the southern US down to South America and summers in the northern US and Canada.
Ecology and Behavior.
Hoary bats are overall solitary bats, except during mating season and migration. The bats tend to winter in warmer climates, although not all individuals do. Hoary bats spend daytime hours roosting in trees that are typically near open clearings. Occasionally they can be found in caves but they tend to have trouble finding their way out and often die as a result. During harsh weather hoary bats use their tail as insulation, wrapping it around their bodies. These bats also have a chatter they produce while flying.
Food and Feeding.
Hoary bats mostly feed on moths but may also feed on beetles, flies, small wasps, dragonflies, termites, and grasshoppers. These bats have also been recorded as eating shed snake skin, grass, and tri-colored bats in some instances. Hoary bats have a relatively simple diet in respect to other bats and the number of insect species they eat.
Reproduction and Development.
The exact time of mating in relation to migration patterns of the hoary bat is currently unknown but mating has been known to occur in warmer hibernation climates, indicating it occurs sometime before or after migration. The female can store sperm through winter and into spring, when fertilization takes place. Litter sizes range from one to four offspring, with two being the typical number and females give birth while hanging upside down.
Overall, though never occurring in large numbers, hoary bats are widely spread over their range, except in Hawaii. The Hawaiian hoary bat is currently listed as “endangered.” While white-nose syndrome is not currently a threat for the hoary bat, scientists are keeping an eye on their populations for indications of potential harm. Though they are one of the species most impacted by wind farms.
- Click here to see where you can find the Hoary Bat in NC!