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Red Bat


Red Bats are Common and widespread from far southern Canada throughout most of the United States. Red bat requires trees and shrubs for roosting. It is remarkable for its richly-colored reddish pelage, with the male brighter than the female


Red Bat

Red Bat

Red bats are medium sized bats having a total length of 93 to 117 mm. Body length is approximately 40 to 50 mm and weight ranges between 7 to 13 g. The hindfoot length is 6 to 11 mm. Height of the ear is 8 to 13 mm. Length of the forearm varies between 36 and 46 mm.


The ears, wing and tail membranes are brownish black. When viewed from below, hibernating individuals display pinkish faces. An average sized adult is 82 mm (3.2 in) in length, weighs approximately 6.5 g (0.2 oz), and has a wingspread of 25.5 cm (10 in).


Red bats are considered "tree bats" in that they roost almost exclusively in trees (or occasionally in shrubs or even on the underside of leaves of the sunflower plant). Favored trees include elm, box elder, wild plum, and silver maple, but other tree species are used based on availability. Roosts provide cover from above and the side, but they are open below.


This enables this narrow-winged bat to drop from the roost and pick up enough speed for flight. Although well camouflaged, eastern red bats sometimes are seen within reach of the ground. Also, they sometimes are "picked" in the mistaken assumption that they are a fruit. They generally are solitary, but several may roost together on rare occasions and it is assumed that the bats communicate with each other. They are regarded as a strongly migratory bat, and dogma assumes that the furred membranes of this species provide warmth during cold spells before or during migration.


However, studies now being conducted in Missouri demonstrate that some eastern red bats remain there year-round, roosting in trees when the temperature is moderate and dropping to the ground and crawling beneath leaf litter during cold snaps. Furthermore, the bats somehow find insects on which to feed throughout the winter. Eastern red bats that migrate tend to do so in groups that are segregated by gender.


Red bats often hunt for insects around lights. Hunting for food begins at dusk and the bat hunts within 500 m of a light source. Generally there is only one peak feeding time during the night, but there are records of these bats searching for food throughout the night. Red bats eat many different kinds of insects: moths, beetles, plant-hoppers, ants, flies, and others.


Life Cycle : A bat biologist was fly fishing and watched as he saw what looked like a single bat tumble onto the bank. The biologist inspected with his flashlight, and saw what he originally thought was a female bat with young clinging to her. Under closer inspection the biologist saw that a male had clasped itself to the back of the female therefore making it impossible for either to fly.


It seemed as if the male red bat had attached itself to the female in mid-flight. The male bat seemed to hold his position by hooking his claw over the female's wing. Mating takes place in flight and usually occurs in August or September. Female red bats store the males' sperm, and they do not get pregnant until the spring, usually March or April.


Female red bats have four mammary glands while most other bats have two. Female red bats give birth to one litter of twins each year, unlike most bats which give birth to single young. Newborn bats are hairless and weigh approximately 1.5 g. The young learn to fly at about five weeks old.


Movement: Red bats roost in the foliage of deciduous trees 1-12 m (3-40 ft) above the ground, selecting perches that are open from below to permit easy access, but otherwise densely shaded to hide them from predators. While roosting, this species hangs by one or both feet, and resembles a dead leaf. In September and October, red bats leave the Adirondacks, migrating into the southern parts of the range, and not returning until mid May or June. On a level, straight course, the flight of this bat is swift, and it may attain a speed of 64 km/h (40 mph).


Social system : Red bat is promiscuous. For most of its life, this species is solitary except during mating and when a female cares for her young. Temporary associations occur during foraging, and at least for some, during migration (groups of 100 have landed on ships 100 miles from the Atlantic coast). In some parts of the range, red bats swarm at the entrances to caves in August, although they do not use them as winter shelters. Swarming may facilitate mating.


Red Bat

Red Bat

Migrating individuals may select the same perches used by red bats during previous nights, perhaps responding to chemical cues placed on the perch. The four sets of facial glands are likely sources of substances. Caged red bats decoy free-ranging individuals, a fact that biologist use to their advantage when attempting to capture this species. In flight, red bats chirp and squeak, as well as emit pulses of high frequency sounds. When handled, they produce raspy, buzzy sounds.


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