Bats of North Carolina

North Carolina Wildlife Profiles

Bats represent one-quarter of all mammal species worldwide. Like us, they give
birth to live young. Bats are relatively long-lived mammals and can survive 20 to 30
years in the wild. Of the 17 bat species that occur in North Carolina, three are listed as
federally Endangered and one is listed as federally Threatened.
Bats are primarily nocturnal, though they also forage in the early evening and early
morning hours. Although most bats have relatively good eyesight, they primarily use
echolocation to navigate and locate prey. Their maneuverability is phenomenal—bats
can avoid objects as small as a string in total darkness.
Bats mate in the spring or fall and usually produce one pup per year. Many species
form maternity colonies in the summer to raise their young, while others are solitary
roosters. Some bat species migrate south for the winter and others find local hibernation
areas, called hibernacula, for the winter. Bats prefer caves or mines for hibernacula,
though they have also been known to use buildings and bridges, and they usually return
to the same site every year.
By educating the public, monitoring populations, and protecting bat habitat, the
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) is working to sustain bat
populations in our state.
  • Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)
  • Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus)
  • Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis)
  • Eastern Small-footed Myotis (Myotis leibii)
  • Evening Bat (Nycticeius humeralis)
  • Gray Myotis (Myotis grisescens)
  • Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)
  • Indiana Myotis (Myotis sodalis)
Bats serve as important pollinators
of many food plants as well as
provide useful aids for medical
research, particulary for the blind.
Bats are the only major predator of
night-flying insects. Bat prey
includes lacewings, cockroaches,
gnats, and mosquitos as their major
food source. A single Big brown bat
can eat between 3,000 and 7,000
mosquitos in a night, with large
populations of bats consuming
thousands of tons of potentially
harmful forest and agricultural pests
Permanent wet areas are critical
because they supply water and a
consistent insect supply