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Hoary Bat

Overview

The hoary bat is our largest bat in Ohio, weighing up to 35 grams and is the most widespread American bat. It’s flight speed can range from 12-25 mph and it emits audible chattering or honking sounds during flight. Hoary bats are migratory tree bats, traveling further south in the winter time and hibernating in trees or leaf litter.

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Description

This bat is covered in thick, long hairs. The coloring on the back is brown- gray with a strong white color on the tips giving the bat a frosted appearance. The underside of the bat is not as frosted. There is a yellowish- red colored fur around the bats face with a distinctive dark outline giving the bat the appearance of a hood. The fur on the bat extends to the uropatagium (a flap of skin connecting the feet and the tail) like the red bat, and it also has noticeable red forearms. The joint on the forearm near the thumb often has white tufts that extend out from it.

Reproduction

Hoary bats, like all other Ohio bats, exhibit delayed fertilization. Males and females mate in the spring and females store sperm until they exit hibernation in the fall. Females give birth in late May to early June, usually to two pups, although they can have as many as five. The pups are covered with fine, silver-gray hair. The pups are left hanging in trees while the mother forages at night. Juveniles can generally fly by day 33.

Habitat & Behavior

Hoary bats tend to feed primarily on moths, but will also eat beetles, flies, grasshoppers, termites, dragonflies, and wasps. They sometimes forage in groups of three or more at productive feeding and drinking sites. In the summer, hoary bats tend to roost alone unless they are mothers with pups. They roost in foliage, often in areas with scattered trees or at the edges of agricultural clearings. They are almost never found roosting in houses or other man-made structures.

Hoary bats are thought to migrate hundreds of miles south beginning in August and September and returning in May and June, although records suggest some may overwinter in Ohio and Indiana. Like the red bat, the hoary bat can withstand cold temperatures because of its thick fur. They will also use their furred uropatagium to cover their wings and underside during roosting. Hoary bats have been caught flying in temperatures as low at 32 F.