Bats Found in Arkansas

By Renn Tumlison,

 Bats are the only mammals that can fly (flying squirrels are only able to glide). Sixteen species of bats occur in Arkansas, and twelve of them likely occur in the Clark County area. All the species found in Arkansas eat insects. When insects are not common during winter, most bats enter a deep rest called torpor and live off of body fat.

After dark, most bats fly by the use of echolocation. They use echoes to make a mental image of the environment, similar to the way computers use Doppler echoes to make a weather map.

Free-tail Bat

The Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) is so named because its tail extends beyond its tail membrane (see photo). This bat lives in colonies. Carlsbad Caverns is famous for having so many of these bats that it looks like smoke leaving the caves in the evenings. It is a very fast flier. In Arkansas, the freetail bat is found primarily in the southern and eastern portion of the state.

 The Brazilian free-tailed bats pictured in the image to the right were roosting in an old building in DeQueen, Arkansas.



Free-tails DeQueen
Big-eared Bat

Townsend's Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) occurs only in northwest Arkansas. In the photo, notice that the eyes are evident. With enough light, bats can fly by sight. Therefore, the statement "blind as a bat" is meaningless. A similar species called Rafinesque's Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii ) occurs in southern and eastern Arkansas.

The gray bat (Myotis grisescens) is one of six species in the genus Myotis found in Arkansas. It occurs primarily in the Ozarks, where it reproduces only in a few special "maternity caves." For this reason, it is considered to be an endangered species. Notice that the wings are translucent. This is because the wings are made of skin stretched between the fingers.

Gray Bat
Keen's Myotis

Keen's Myotis (Myotis keenii) is found in the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains. In the Ozarks, they inhabit caves, but in the Ouachitas, they often are found in abandoned mines.

 The hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) is one of the larger bats in Arkansas (total length up to 150 mm, or 5.9 inches; wingspread up to 410 mm, or 16.1 inches). Its name is due to the effect of having white tips on the hairs. As with most other Arkansas bats, when the legs are spread, the tail curls forward creating a basket in which insects can be caught.

Hoary Bat
Red Bat

The red bat (Lasiurus borealis) probably is the most common bat in Arkansas. Males (seen here) are more reddish than females. The name Lasiurus refers to having hair on the tail membrane, which does not occur on any other group of bats in Arkansas. The first bat to come out in the evening, even before dark, usually is this bat.  

The tri-colored bat (Perimyohs subflavus ) is the smallest bat in Arkansas (total length up to 95 mm, or 3.7 inches; wingspread up to 258 mm, or 10.2 inches). Notice in this picture two structures sticking up above the wings. The wings of bats are made of skin stretched between the second through the fifth fingers. The two structures are the bat's thumbs, which can be used to help the bat crawl.

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