Virginia Big-Eared Bat Facts
Corynorhinus townsendii virginiaus
Virginia big-eared bats live in limestone caves and old mines. Unlike many species of bat, they do not migrate. Instead, they spend the winter hibernating in special caves called “hibernacula.” They live in isolated populations in southwestern Virginia, northwestern North Carolina, eastern West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky.
Virginia big-eared bats are medium sized bats. They are between three and 4.5 inches long, and weigh between 0.3 and 0.4 ounces. The “big ears” for which they are named are about an inch long.
Virginia big-eared bats are nocturnal insectivores. They eat moths, flies, beetles, wasps, and winged ants. They capture their prey by picking them off leaves or blades of grass or by swooping them out of mid-air. They eat small moths whole, but will pick the wings off bigger ones.
Mating takes place in the fall. Females store the sperm over the winter so fertilization takes place in the spring. Over the winter, groups of bats hibernate together, hanging in clusters off the walls and ceilings of caves called “hibernacula.” In the spring, females congregate in “maternity colonies” where they give birth to a single baby bat, called a “pup” each. Pups are able to fly about three weeks after they’re born.
Other than white-nose syndrome, Virginia big-eared bats are also threatened by human disturbances in the form of noise, bright lights, and human presence. Such disturbances can interrupt hibernation, sap the bats’ fat stores, or cause female bats to abandon a maternity colony before their pups are grown.
The state bat of Virginia, they are listed as endangered both federally and in Virginia.