There are 25 different types of bats in California out of the 1,400 species of bats documented across the globe.
In addition, among all of these strange flying mammals, there are dozens of species that are undeniably endearing.
We have compiled this comprehensive article for all you need to know and appreciate the different types of bats in California.
Table of Contents
- 1. Silver-haired Bat
- 2. Canyon Bat
- 3. Big Brown Bat
- 4. Desert Red Bat
- 5. Western Yellow Bat
- 6. Hoary Bat
- 7. Spotted Bat
- 8. Townsend’s Big-eared Bat
- 9. Pallid Bat
- 10. Mexican Free-tailed Bat
- 11. Pocketed Free-tailed Bat
- 12. Big Free-tailed Bat
- 13. Western Mastiff Bat
- 14. California Leaf-nosed Bat
- 15. Mexican Long-tongued Bat
- 16. Lesser Long-nosed Bat
- 17. Little Brown Bat
- 18. Arizona Myotis
- 19. Yuma Myotis
- 20. Cave Myotis
- 21. Long-eared Myotis Bat
- 22. Fringed Myotis
- 23. Long-legged Myotis
- 24. California Myotis
- 25. Western Small-footed Bat
1. Silver-haired Bat
The Silver-haired Bat, or Lasionycteris noctivagans, is a medium-sized species with black ears, wings, and interfemoral membranes covered in white-tipped hairs, giving them the impression of being frosted. They can reach a length of 10 centimeters on their bodies and have flattened heads.
They congregate in large numbers at low elevations during migration, where they can more easily blend into their surroundings by roosting in bark fissures and tree hollows. During the winter months, some relocate into buildings.
Wind turbines are responsible for the deaths of 75% of these bats. Because of their poor reproduction rates, they are susceptible to the risks that come with population problems.
Because of the virus they harbor, these bats are to blame for the vast majority of rabies cases in humans.
2. Canyon Bat
The Canyon Bat, or Pipistrellus Hesperus, is a small species of bat that measures about 2.15 centimeters across its wings and has a body length of 8 millimeters.
Females are often a little bit larger than males, and their coloring can range from a very light yellow or white to a very dark brown.
The color of their backs is darker than that of their bellies, which is lighter. Their faces, ears, and flight membranes are virtually as dark as their feet and ears.
They can fly at speeds as low as five miles per hour thanks to their short and broad wings, which give them a low speed.
It is usual to find them in arid regions and lowlands, typically below 5,000 feet in elevation. During the day, they will naturally rest in cracks and crevices in rocks.
However, there have been reports of them moving into houses, under rocks, and even mines. These types of bats in California are extremely delicate and susceptible to drying out because of their size.
In most cases, you will notice them flying around as the very first bat of the evening and as the very last bat of the morning. They are not active at night but become active just after sunset and immediately before daybreak.
These bats have a flight path that is irregular and fluttery, and they enter hibernation when the temperature drops and the number of insects begin to decrease. They do not hibernate in big groups and mostly stay on their own throughout the winter.
Females typically give birth in June and have two young. They are raised by the female on her own, though sometimes maternity colonies consisting of up to a dozen bats are used. Within the first three weeks of life, babies can fly.
3. Big Brown Bat
The Big Brown Bat, scientifically known as Eptesicus fuscus, is a species of vesper bat that was first described in 1796. They are huge bats with wingspans that can reach up to 35 centimeters.
Adults can reach a body length of 13 centimeters and have glossy fur that ranges in color from red to brown; the belly is a lighter shade of brown.
Their snout and wing membranes are hairless and black, and their ears are rounded. Their muzzles are broad and round, and their huge, protruding incisors are a distinguishing feature.
They roost in various structures, including cracks in rocks, tree hollows, storm drains, and even woodpiles.
During the summer, it is common to see males foraging independently; nevertheless, there have been observations of males roosting alongside females.
It is common for females to use the same roost year after year, and their young often return to the roost where their parents raised them.
To navigate, these types of bats in California rely on echolocation, which enables them to determine the distance to an item and its size and shape.
4. Desert Red Bat
The Desert Red Bat, also known as the Western Red Bat (Lasiurus blossevillii), are types of bats in California that travels throughout the winter months.
It travels to southern America during the winter and then returns to its northern home during summer. They use the color of their bodies to help them blend in with the fallen leaves of the forest while they are hibernating there.
The desert red bats also employ echolocation in order to locate their prey, which includes insects such as flies, beetles, and moths, which they then consume. They are susceptible to attack from raccoons, owls, and possums.
The male and female desert red bats follow Different migration patterns; during the winter months, the females can inhabit warmer areas than the males.
5. Western Yellow Bat
Western Yellow Bats, also known as Lasiurus xanthinus, are little bats that can weigh as little as 16 grams and have a vivid yellow coloration.
They are not a cause for concern because they are prevalent in Baja and California and have a wide geographic range in the United States.
This indicates that these types of bats in California have a vast population, and it is unlikely that they would see a significant fall in number.
6. Hoary Bat
The Hoary Bat, or Lasiurus cinereus, can reach a maximum body length of 14.5 centimeters and a wingspan of 40 centimeters.
They are giant bats with dark brown coats with white points on their hair. They have white tips on their hair. Under their wings is the sole portion of their body that does not have a hairy covering.
Females carry up to forty percent more mass than males. Even though they typically roost on their own, hiding in the undergrowth of trees, they have occasionally been seen in caves with other species of bat.
When it comes to hunting, they like hunting in wooded areas over open areas. They go up to forty kilometers on their solitary hunts and spend months seeking moths.
They travel to Central America to spend the winter months there and then head back to North America in the spring and summer.
Although they are not endangered, there is a significant mortality rate among them because of wind turbines; in fact, wind turbines kill forty percent of these animals every year.
This is because the hoary bats are drawn to the height of wind turbines and depend on them for rest. In 2005, wind turbines were responsible for the deaths of more than one thousand hoary bats. The bulk of these deaths occurred during migration.
7. Spotted Bat
Another mention on our list of types of bats in California is the Spotted Bats, scientifically known as Euderma maculatum.
It has a body length of up to 12 centimeters and a wingspan of up to 35 centimeters at maturity. They have three white spots that are colored black on the rear of their bodies. Their ears are quite huge.
They give birth to one juvenile in either June or July, and their diet consists of grasshoppers and moths. These bats like to sleep in areas that are not subject to much human activity, such as woodlands, hayfields, deserts, shrub grasslands, and marshes.
8. Townsend’s Big-eared Bat
The Townsend’s Big-eared Bat, also known as the Corynorhinus townsendii, is a species of bat that is about the size of a medium dog and has long ears and little lumps on the sides of its snout.
They can reach a body length of 10 centimeters and have a wing span of about 28 centimeters as they mature.
Their season for mating is in the late fall, and afterward, the female will store the sperm until the spring, when she will fertilize the eggs. Females only ever have one child at a time that survives to adulthood.
They will roost in decrepit structures, caverns, mines, and the hollows of trees if given the option. Caverns, rocky crevices, and buildings are some of their favorite places to hang out during the summer, but they gravitate more into tunnels, mines, and caves during the winter.
During the summer, the males roost independently, while the females congregate in maternity colonies. This keeps the men and females from mating with one another.
Maternity colonies of Townsend’s big-eared bats can have as many as two hundred individuals. They form dense groups to hibernate throughout the winter, which helps them maintain a more consistent body temperature despite the chilly conditions.
Hibernation sites for males are often warmer than those for females. These types of bats in California can reach speeds of up to 12.3 miles per hour when traveling in a straight line and can consume food as many as three times between dusk and daybreak.
9. Pallid Bat
The body length of adult Pallid Bats (Antrozous pallidus) can reach 7.9 centimeters, while their wingspans can reach up to 40 centimeters.
They are huge bats with ears that point forward and hair that is lighter at the base of their bodies and browner on their backs. The underside is paler, especially the belly.
These bats stay in semi-arid and arid habitats, typically close to water bodies. They prefer pastures covered in vegetation. These bats make their homes in nooks and crannies, such as those found in tile roofs and rocky outcrops.
They chose a roost that is less secure during the night than the one they selected during the day since it is closer to the food source. Caves and abandoned structures are two of their preferred roosting spots during the colder months.
Crickets make up the majority of their diet, and in a single night, they can consume as much as half of their body weight. They fly quite close to the ground, typically no more than two meters above it.
Another interesting fact about these bats is that they are immune to the venom of scorpions, which is convenient given that scorpions are one of their favorite foods.
The Pallid Bats have the remarkable capacity to regulate the temperature of their bodies, and their size can change depending on the environment in which they live. Generally speaking, those in coastal regions are larger than those in desert places.
10. Mexican Free-tailed Bat
The body length of the Mexican Free-tailed Bat, also known as Tadarida brasiliensis, can reach up to 9 centimeters, with females being heavier than males.
The tail accounts for about half of its total length and has ears that are rounded and broad to aid in echolocation.
They have deep creases on their upper lips, and under their molars, there is a z-shaped impression that they use to ground-up insects. They have long, slender wings that taper to a point at the end, which contributes to their ability to fly in a straight line.
The Mexican Free-tailed bats tend to assemble in colonies at elevations ranging from 180 to 1,000 meters above sea level, although they have been spotted soaring as high as 3,000 meters above sea level.
They spend most of their lives in caves but will also roost in buildings if they can access dark crevices and apertures; these bats will roost in any old or new structure to which they have access, including brand new structures. They can cluster together in the millions when in caves.
11. Pocketed Free-tailed Bat
Another popular types of bats in California are The Pocketed Free-tailed bat, scientifically known as Nyctinomops femorosaccus; it got its name from a fold that looks like a shallow pocket at the knee.
Their earlobes meet in the middle of their heads, and they have huge, broad heads with grooved lips. They have coarse hair all over their face. The ears are substantial and have a leathery texture.
They can reach a maximum length of 11.2 centimeters and a weight of up to 14 grams in adulthood. Because of their restricted flight capabilities, they consume a wide range of insects, focusing on beetles.
They replenish their water supplies by drinking from open-access water sources during the dry seasons.
12. Big Free-tailed Bat
The Big Free-tailed Bat, also known as Nyctinomops macrotis, can have a wing span of up to 43 centimeters and weigh up to 20 grams.
They have a shiny coat ranging in color from reddish-brown to black or dark brown, depending on the individual.
They can reach up to 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour) in the air and at elevations as high as 2,600 meters above sea level.
These types of bats in California are not to be vagrants. These bats feed on insects and leave their roosts after the sun goes down to hunt for food, returning to their homes before morning.
13. Western Mastiff Bat
The Western Mastiff Bat, also known as Eumops perotis, is another interesting mention on our list of types of bats in California.
They can reach a maximum body length of 19 centimeters and a maximum wingspan of 56 centimeters. They can weigh up to 70 grams and have fur that is a chocolate brown color.
Because they rely on height to take flight, they require a gap beneath their roosting location at least three meters in depth.
In most cases, you will be able to hear their echolocation squeaks from a distance of three hundred meters away, which is unique for bats because it is audible to people.
During the day, they congregate in communal roosts and form colonies of no more than one hundred individuals.
Even though some of them migrate and others hibernate, they are occasionally active during the winter. The food consists primarily of moths (around 80% of it).
14. California Leaf-nosed Bat
The body length of the California Leaf-nosed Bat (Macrotus californicus) can reach 6 centimeters, while its wing span can reach more than 30 centimeters.
These brown bats have what is known as a nose leaf, which is a fleshy flap of skin that protrudes over the top of their nose. They have huge ears and are excellent fliers due to their dexterity.
They can fly at slow speeds, consuming very little energy in the process. Their wings cannot carry them long distances, so they do not migrate. They tuck their hind legs neatly behind them when they take to the air.
The scrub environments of the Mojave Desert and the Sonoran Desert in Southern California are popular places to find them.
15. Mexican Long-tongued Bat
The Mexican Long-tongued Bat, scientifically known as Choeronycteris mexicana, is a medium-sized bat that ranges from gray to brown, with lighter coloration on the shoulder.
Their wings range in color from a dark brown to a grayish color, with the tips being a lighter shade. The tail is relatively short, and the ears are the same color as the body.
They have a long muzzle tipped with a nose leaf. Their tongues, which are long and slender and extendable, allow them to consume nectar by stretching out.
They navigate by echolocation, and their hearing is particularly attuned to higher frequencies. These types of bats in California typically stay at elevations ranging from 300 to 2400 meters above sea level. The folks living in the north travel south during the winter to warmer climates.
16. Lesser Long-nosed Bat
The Lesser Long-nosed Bat, scientifically known as Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae, is a little bat that can reach a maximum length of 8 centimeters and weigh up to 25 grams.
These types of bats in California have a very modest nose leaf on top of a long and slender snout. They do not have a visible tail. They can suck up nectar with their mouths because of their long ridges and rough papillae.
In open settings, they are capable of flying over great distances. They can be a grayish or yellowish-brown tint, and their bellies have rusty brown hair.
They also have small ears. Around 1800 feet in altitude, they can be found in grasslands, scrublands, and woodlands. They can also survive in temperatures as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Migrants that spend the summer in California, these birds head back south in September. Some are capable of traveling 1,600 kilometers in a single year.
17. Little Brown Bat
The Little Brown Bat, scientifically known as Myotis lucifugus, has mouse-like ears and a glossy coat on its little body. Each year, the females give birth to a single young.
During the day, these nocturnal mammals spend their time roosting in buildings or the hollows of trees, and they hunt for insects at night.
They find their prey using a technique called echolocation and are vulnerable to being eaten by raccoons and owls.
The Little Brown Bat frequently interacts with humans since they roost in human structures, sometimes in colonies that people regard as a nuisance, but they rarely test positive for rabies.
They have the potential to attain a body length of 3.7 inches (9.5 cm) and a maximum weight of 12.5 grams. The females are significantly larger than the males.
They can be a dark brown color all the way up to a light tan, with the underside of their bellies being lighter in color than their backs.
18. Arizona Myotis
The Arizona Myotis, scientifically known as Myotis occultus, is a must-mention in our compilation on types of bats in California.
It is a little bat that can reach a maximum length of 4 centimeters (including its tail) and has a wingspan of 9.6 centimeters.
The cinnamon color shows in the sheen of their glossy brown fur. The complexion of the face is lighter. It is common to find them at heights ranging from sea level to 9,200 feet above sea level.
19. Yuma Myotis
This tiny bat, known scientifically as Myotis yumanensis, may reach a maximum body length of 4.8 centimeters and has a wing span of approximately 24 centimeters.
The Yuma Myotis has a drab and short coat, ranging in color from dark brown to gray and tan, and its belly is nearly white. Its hue can range from dark brown to gray and tan. They have huge paws, short noses, and ears that are marginally longer than average.
These bats stay in lowland habitats, ranging from scrubs to woods, and are typically near water bodies, such as ponds and lakes. They roost in the thousands in caves, mines, attics, houses, and even under bridges.
20. Cave Myotis
The Cave Myotis, or Myotis velifer, is the largest of the Myotis group of bats, which includes several other species. They have a bald spots on their backs, short ears, and are brown in color. With a length of 44 mm, the male’s forearm is significantly shorter than the female’s.
Caves, mines, and structures are typical locations for their presence. They can congregate on cave ceilings by the hundreds while they are dormant over the winter.
21. Long-eared Myotis Bat
Myotis evotis cannot be excluded when exploring types of bats in California; also known as the long-eared myotis bat, they can range in color from a light straw brown to a light straw tint, and they have black ears and black wing membranes. Additionally, the face is dark in color. Those located closer to the seaside tend to have a darker color.
They tend to live anywhere from sea level to 9,280 feet above the ground but can thrive in a variety of ecosystems, such as prairies, woods, and shrublands. The altitude at which they thrive ranges from 0 to 3,050 meters.
Crevices in rocks, caves, abandoned buildings, and even the cavities of trees are common places for them to roost. They look for vertically oriented cracks and an overhang at the entrance.
22. Fringed Myotis
The Fringed Myotis, also known as Myotis thysanodes, is characterized by having short hairs in the space between the membrane that separates its hind legs. They have an average body length of about 8.5 centimeters and can live up to eighteen years.
Their ears extend in front of the snout and measure approximately 1.65 centimeters in length. On their backs, their coats range from light brown to olive color, while on their bellies, they are off-white.
One can find these types of bats in California as close to the ground as 150 meters. They are most active within the first five hours after the sun has set and rarely come out when it rains since the rain interferes with their ability to echolocate, thermoregulate, and fly.
They are most active within the first five hours after the sun has set. Between October and March, they move. They hunt by gliding through the air at slow speeds while maintaining superb mobility, and they usually keep their distance from the tops of trees.
23. Long-legged Myotis
The Long-legged Myotis, scientifically known as Myotis volans, is the second-largest species of Myotis and is closely related to the small brown bat. Its wing span measures 12 inches.
They can be a reddish-brown color, a chocolate brown color, or a light brown color with long fur that extends from their bodies to their knees and covers the area under their wings.
The Long-legged Myotis call several different environments their homes, including conifer forests, woodlands, and meadows. They consume different insects, but moths make up most of their diet. They start foraging soon before the sun goes down.
24. California Myotis
The California Myotis, scientifically known as Myotis californicus, is a little bat that can reach a maximum body length of about 9.4 centimeters and a maximum weight of up to 5.4 grams.
They are of medium size and have pointy ears that are thin in width. The mass of the face is less than that of the body.
The California Myotis spend the daytime hours roosting in the cavities of trees, mainly pines, as well as in structures and cracks in rocks. They tend to avoid human settlements in favor of more rural and forested environments.
Immediately after dark, They begin their foraging activity, consuming flying insects, moths, and flies. They have superb control over their flight despite their modest speed.
25. Western Small-footed Bat
The last mention on our list of types of bats in California is the Western Little-footed Bats, scientifically known as Myotis ciliolabrum; they are relatively small bats that reach a maximum body length of 10 centimeters and a maximum wingspan of 24 centimeters.
They range in hue from yellow to brown and have a whiter underside, long ears, and little feet in addition to their black chins and muzzles.
They mainly inhabit semi-arid environments, such as deserts and pine or juniper woods found at higher elevations, up to 10,830 feet.