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Brown Bat Feeding Time!

Bats - Native to Kentcky

 There are 16 different species of bats found in Kentucky. However, only 14 of which are actually regarded as permanent residents.  All of Kentucky's bats are insectivores. This means that they all eat a variety of insects.


Bats are the only known true flying mammal. They belong to the order, Chiroptera, meaning "hand wing". This is an actual characteristic of bat anatomy. Their elongated finger bones are connected with membrane, which make up the bat's wing. 


Many species of bats are true hibernators.  They cycle through periods of torpor, where their body temperature and heartrate slow. Often times, they will experience moments where they arouse from sleep to get a drink  and then go back into torpor until Spring. 

One interesting fact about bats is their ability to delay fertilization. Most species mate in the Fall. Then they go into hibernation, storing the sperm until they wake. When females emerge from their winter roosts in the Spring of the following year, their eggs are then fertilized.  Gestation usually lasts 40-60 days, depending on the species.

Colonizing species have a female maternity roost. Many females will return to the same roost that their mothers used. The pups grow quickly and for most species are independent after a month old. 

Some of Kentucky's bats are migratory, traveling to a warmer climate in the Winter. A few of the species are known to prefer trees to roost in, while others roost in caves or human structures. A couple of the species are actually solitary creatures until mating season begins. Kentucky's year round bats have different roosting sites depending on the season. 

There are three species native to Kentucky that are Federally Endangered. They are the Virginia Big-Eared Bat, the Indiana Bat, and the Gray Bat. 

The other species that are found in Kentucky are:

The Big Brown Bat, the Little Brown Bat, the Silver-haired Bat, the Eastern Red Bat, the Hoary Bat, the Tricolored Bat, the Evening Bat, the Northern Long-Eared Bat, the Seminole Bat, the Rafinesque's Big-Eared Bat, the Southeastern Myotis, the Eastern Small-Footed Myotis, and the Brazilian Fee-Tailed Bat.

The most commonly seen species in Kentucky, are the Big Brown Bat and the Little Brown Bat. These are also the two species most sent in for rabies testing. This is thought to be due to their readiness to roost in human structures, therefore having more interactions with the public.

Bats are extremely important members of the ecosystem. Many species of bats are pollinators, they also disperse seeds of many plants, and many control pests of crops. A single Little Brown Bat can eat about 1000 mosquitoes per hour. 


  • Many species of bats can live up to 20+ years, though many average 6-7 years.

  • Bats are capable of flying speeds up to 60 mph.

  • Bat feces, referred to as guano, are one of the richest fertilizers.

  • The bats that are found in the United States DO NOT drink blood. Vampire bats (there only being three species) feed solely on blood. They once were native to the U.S., as fossils were found in California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and other states. The Common Vampire Bat is pushing new territory in both North and South America. The have been documented within about 30 miles from the Texas border.

  • Nearly all the bats in the United States are insectivores, except for the three flower eating species that migrate from Mexico.

  • Bats are not blind. Many species can see as well as any other mammal. They use echolocation to find their way in the dark and to catch prey.

  • A bats' tragus is a key feature in identifying its species. A tragus sits in front of the ear canal. 

  • Bats are not flying rodents! They are actually more closely related to primates. 

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