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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Rafinesque's Big-eared Bat
Order Chiroptera : Family Vespertilionidae : Plecotus rafinesquii Lesson

Rafinesque's Big-eared Bat (Plecotus rafinesquii).  Photo by Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International.Description. Similar to Townsend’s 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.

Species distribution mapDistribution in Texas. A bat of the southeastern United States, Rafinesque’s big-eared bat reaches the westernmost portion of its range in the pine forests of East Texas.

Habits. Unlike the closely related P. townsendii, Rafinesque’s 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 September.

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