Southeastern Myotis (Myotis austroriparius)
The bats within the Myotis genus are difficult to tell apart, but the southeastern myotis has a whitish color belly and brown fur on its’ back. The fur of this species of myotis has a wooly quality to it and has a russet color during the summertime. They also have long toe hairs ad a pink colored nose that is hairless. They are small to medium in size as they reach lengths of 3 ½ to 4 inches long a wingspan of up to 10 inches.
Range and Presence in Kentucky
As their name describes, they are native to the southeastern United States including southeastern North Carolina, central Georgia, southern and western Alabama, western Tennessee, and Kentucky. They are also seen in southern Indiana, southern Illinois, west-central Arkansas, southeast Oklahoma and eastern Texas. Their populations have also been seen as far south as the Gulf Coast and in central Florida. As far as their presence in Kentucky, they are seen in the western half of the state.
Habitat and Behavior
From the middle of April (after hibernation) through October, these bats may roost in caves, but most of them move into hollow tree cavities in bottomland forests. They have also been documented using abandoned buildings as well as caves and trees. These myotis bats live in colonies of a few hundred or more and are found in Kentucky throughout the year. Hibernation for these bats occurred in caves, sometimes alongside Indiana bats. The southeastern myotis forages over water sources and can fly close to the surface of the water.
Females are known to form maternity colonies where they give birth to two pups. This is unusual for the Myotis genus of bats because a majority of them bear one pup per litter. It takes these babies a couple to a few weeks longer to mature than other bats species do.
These are an endangered species of bats and the destruction of their prime habitat has much to do with that status. People have converted their habitat into agricultural land or areas of urban expansion. They utilize caves as well and these habitats are exposed to human disturbances which can really throw off their natural time clock for hibernation and where they females feel safe rearing their young. In recent years, it has been found that these bats are also affected by white-nose syndrome.
Rafinesque’s big-eared bat
Little brown bat
Virginia big-eared bat
Eastern small-footed myotis
Big brown bat