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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Eastern Red Bat
Order Chiroptera : Family Vespertilionidae : Lasiurus borealis (Muller)

Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis).  Photo by Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International.Description. A medium-sized, distinctly reddish bat with ears short, broad, rounded, and partly furred; membrane between hind legs densely furred above. Not easily confused with any other bat except L. seminolus and L. blossevillii. Upperparts reddish, the tips of the hairs white, producing a frosted appearance; males usually lack the white-tipped hairs and are much redder. Dental formula as in L. blossevillii. External measurements average: total length, 108 mm; tail, 48 mm; foot, 9 mm; ear, 12 mm; forearm, 40 mm. Weight, 10-15 g.

Species distribution mapDistribution in Texas. Statewide, but rare in Trans-Pecos.

Habits. Eastern red bats are forest dwelling, solitary bats and are one of the few North American species that roost in the open in trees. They do not use sites such as caves, mine tunnels, or similar sites often frequented by other species. Roosting sites are common in tree foliage or Spanish moss where the bats are concealed as they resemble dead leaves.

This bat is migratory and moves northward in spring and southward in fall. It is considered a year-round resident of eastern Texas but may only be a summer migrant in the western part of the state. These bats winter in southern United States, Mexico, Bermuda, the Antilles, and perhaps even farther south.

They appear on the wing early in the evening and forage close to the ground under the canopy of an orchard or a shaded grove. They typically follow a specific territory while feeding and generally forage near the forest canopy at or above treetop level. They often hunt around streetlamps in towns and occasionally alight to capture insects. Twilight-flying insects such as moths, scarab beetles, planthoppers, flying ants, leafhoppers, ground beetles, and assassin beetles are among their favorite prey items.

The breeding range in western United States appears to coincide with the bats known distribution. Young bats are born in localities as far south as southern Texas and as far north as southern Canada. The young, two to four in number — usually three — are born in May, June, or July. This is one of the few bats that has more than two teats (four). The young ones remain with their mother for some time after they have learned to fly and the family group roosts together.

Photo credit: Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International.