Virginia Big-Eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus)


Physical Description

The Virginia big-eared bat varies in color from pale to dark brown on their backs and a lighter brown on their undersides. They have short toe hairs that do not extend past their toes. These bats are considered to be a medium size bat that grows to between 3 ½ and 4 inches long with a 12-inch wingspan. As their name reveals, they have large ears that can reach up to an inch in length and 2 large lumps (glands) on their snouts.

Range in Which They Are Found

These endangered bats are found in isolated populations throughout a limited area. This area includes eastern Kentucky, eastern West Virginia, southwest Virginia, and northwestern North Carolina.

Habitat and Behavior

The Virginia big-eared bat mates in the fall and winter before they go into hibernation and the females will store the sperm until their ovulation in the spring (known as delayed fertilization). The females will form maternity colonies after they emerge from hibernation. They will form these colonies in warm caves and they will give birth to a single pup in June. The pups will be able to fly around 3 weeks after they are born. These bats feed on insects, moths being the predominant insect in their diet.

They are a non-migratory species that live in caves all year-round. They prefer a particular type of cave in areas that have limestone bedrock that are in forested areas. These caves are normally located within forests that are dominated by oak and hickory or beech, maple, and hemlock. When it comes time for hibernation, they do so in tight clusters near the mouth of caves that maintain a temperature of between 32 and 54 degrees.


These bats have become endangered mostly due to human disturbance. When they are disturbed during hibernation, they are going to find more suitable sites, and this causes them to use up their precious fat reserves, leading to their death. If maternity colonies are disturbed, mothers may drop their babies, or the colony may move to a location that is less than optimal for rearing their young.

Bat Species

Rafinesque’s big-eared bat
Silver-haired bat
Seminole bat
Little brown bat
Indiana bat
Red bat
Gray bat
Eastern small-footed myotis
Evening bat
Big brown bat
Hoary bat
Southeastern myotis
Northern bat
Eastern pipistrelle

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