Chicago residents know that bats are some of the city’s best and most beloved mascots, but did you know that there are different types of bats in Chicago?
You’ll undoubtedly find these winged mammals flying overhead or hanging out in your neighborhood.
If you look closely enough, you will find them no matter where you live in the city.
Here’s what you need to know about the types of bats in Chicago and some of their more common varieties.
1. Little Brown Bat
The little brown bat, or Myotis lucifugus, is one of the most common types of bats in Chicago you can find in the wild. These types of bats are small and stealthy with dark brown fur.
Also, they have long ears that help them when they’re hunting. Another way to tell if a bat is a little brown bat is by looking at its toes- Myotis lucifugus has 5 toes on each foot.
The difference between this species and others is that this type has hair on its feet, allowing it to be light on its wings, just like those slippers your grandma might wear.
2. Hoary Bat
In January, those few thousand hoary bats living in the Chicago area woke up.
They head out to find their favorite winter breakfast: carotene-rich bugs like a moth or aphid.
Also, many insect-eating bats eat lots of different kinds of insects.
This hoary bat prefers moths, with beetles and spiders coming in as second and third favorites.
3. Big Brown Bat
Home to about 40 different types of bats in Chicago. The big brown bat, also known as the evening bat, can be found throughout the city, and it is one of the most common species in Chicago.
It tends to roost inside buildings or trees during the day and come out at night to feed on insects.
They are solitary animals who live alone but may form groups when there are large amounts of food sources.
4. Eastern Red Bat
Though they may be small and furry, these nocturnal mammals can significantly impact the human population.
A recent study showed some types of bats in Chicago severely reduced some mosquito populations, and the population is now on the rise.
They have long, narrow wings and a varied diet of insects and amphibians. Bats are an essential contributor to a healthy ecosystem.
And for those who know where to look, finding one is relatively easy as well!
5. Tricolored Bat
Bat populations have been steadily declining across the United States, and an estimated 70% of bat species are at risk of extinction.
The tricolored bat is a near-threatened species with less than 10,000 individuals remaining.
It primarily feeds on moths but will also eat crickets, beetles, scorpions, and spiders.
These types of bats in Chicago have been known to live on roofs and attic spaces, and it is not unusual to find them hibernating together during the winter months.
A peregrine falcon nest photographed this one up under the eaves!
6. Northern Long-eared Bat
Native to North America, the Northern Long-eared Bat is usually found in Canada and southern parts of the United States.
This bat feeds mainly on moths and beetles, which it catches by hovering in mid-air before making a sharp turn.
It often stores these caught insects under trees or roosts before they are eaten.
A pregnant female will give birth to one pup annually, hanging on her mother’s abdomen during her first summer flight.
Male Northern Long-eared Bat mates with several females between late May and September and will often continue to visit each female throughout the mating season as long as she allows him access.
7. Evening Bat
Bats are nocturnal mammals, meaning they fly at night and usually sleep during the day. The Evening Bat is a typical example of a species that starts its night by hunting.
They hunt over treetops before making their way to a forest or farm area where they roost.
Then, as the evening progresses, bats will circle and feed before flying back to the original area.
This is one of the types of bats in Chicago that mainly lives near large bodies of water with plenty of prey-catching insects or small animals living close by.
Bats are classified as mammals because they give birth to live young and produce milk.
They differ from most other mammals because their forelimbs have been modified into wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of accurate flight.
8. Eastern Small-footed Bat
Even though these types of bats in Chicago are small, they’re often the most common bats found throughout the city.
They can find their homes everywhere, from woodlands to gardens.
One species experiencing a population decline is called the Eastern Small-footed Bat.
To help conserve this and other bat species, put up a bat house on your property and make sure you provide water for them year-round!
9. Indiana Bat
In the 1800s, Indiana bats roosted in every county on their migratory path. They hibernated during the winter months and numbered about one million.
Today, their population has decreased to less than 60,000 bats nationwide and is now classified as endangered.
Only an estimated 2,000 bats are left in Illinois, and conservationists believe they could become extinct without significant efforts to protect this species.
Unfortunately for the bat population, white-nose syndrome has been wreaking havoc for over a decade with no cure.
The fungus is not harmful to humans but attacks the skin tissues of hibernating bats, resulting in considerable mortality.
10. Mexican Free-tailed Bat
Mexicans Free-tailed types of bats in Chicago are found throughout the Americas and as far north as southern Canada.
These nocturnal insectivores love to feast on beetles, moths, mosquitos, bees, flies, and more.
Also, they are often spotted near natural areas where they can find a variety of prey to eat. Mexican free-tailed gives birth to one pup per year.
A colony typically numbers around 300 adults, with one territory containing up to 20 million individuals!
11. Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bat
The name suggests they have big ears, but that doesn’t mean they’re not cute!
Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bat is native to the United States and has several habitats it can call home.
These include woodlands, coniferous forests, and other parks close to water.
Some common foods they eat are insects, small vertebrates (i.e., fish, birds), and fruit. They are one of the bats in Chicago that have many habitats.
12. Southeastern Myotis
There are more than 10 different types of bats in Chicago.
This includes the southeastern myotis, which roosts between September and November before migrating to warmer climates. Also, they are little bats primarily active at night.
13. Gray Bat
A gray bat is an insectivore typically found in Eastern North America.
The gray bat hunts mostly for beetles ground insects, and crickets using echolocation.
A gray bat will eat mostly whatever it catches but sometimes hunt low-flying night-flying birds as prey.
The name Gray combines the word gray and the word bat.
There are plenty of places where bats can live in Chicago, and there are plenty of reasons why they should consider it their home.
Most people associate bats with vampires or evil but believe it or not, many species of bats are beneficial to humans.
Thankfully, most types of bats in Chicago are not typically dangerous to humans. Most rabies transmissions happen when a bat bites someone and draws blood.
Additionally, it’s rare for people to get rabies from bats. Always be aware of your surroundings when going into nature to reduce the risk. Also, don’t touch any animals you come across!