|The Mammals of Texas -
Rafinesque's Big-eared Bat
Chiroptera : Family
Vespertilionidae : Plecotus rafinesquii Lesson
Description. Similar to Townsends
big-eared bat, but hairs of the underparts have white
tips that contrast sharply with the dark bases; long
hairs on foot project noticeably beyond the ends of the
toes; middle upper incisors with a secondary cusp; median
postpalatal process triangular in shape with a broad
base. Dental formula as in P. townsendii.
External measurements average: total length, 100 mm;
tail, 46 mm; foot, 12 mm; forearm, 43 mm. Weight, 7-13 g.
Distribution in Texas. A bat of the
southeastern United States, Rafinesques big-eared
bat reaches the westernmost portion of its range in the
pine forests of East Texas.
Habits. Unlike the closely
related P. townsendii, Rafinesques big-eared
bat occurs in forested regions largely devoid of natural
caves. Its natural roosting places are in hollow trees,
crevices behind bark, and under dry leaves. It has been
observed most frequently in buildings, both occupied and
abandoned. Texas specimens have been captured in barns
and abandoned wells. P. rafinesquii appears to be
a solitary bat although colonies of 2-100 may be
encountered in summer. Winter aggregations, usually of
both sexes, are more numerous but even then solitary
individuals are frequently found. The bats probably do
not hibernate in East Texas, but in the northern part of
their range they tend to seek out underground retreats
and hibernate through the winter.
Like other Plecotus, P.
rafinesquii emerges from its daytime roost well after
dark to forage. Specific food items have not been
recorded but small, night-flying insects, especially
moths, are probably important.
The single young is born in late May or
early June; they shed their milk dentition by mid-July,
and reach adult size and appearance in August or
Photo credit: Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation