||The Mammals of Texas -
Eastern Red Bat
Chiroptera : Family
Vespertilionidae : Lasiurus borealis (Muller)
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.
Distribution 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
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
Photo credit: Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation