9 Different Types of Bats in Iowa

Types Of Bats In Iowa
Photo by Eric Pedersen Torales

There are many different types of bats in Iowa, each with its benefits to people and the environment. The most common species in the state are the Little Brown Bat, Silver-haired Bat, Hoary Bat, Big Brown Bat, Northern Long-eared Bat, and Tri-colored Bat. 

However, If you’re thinking about setting up bat houses on your property, there are some things you should know.

Before investing your time and money into these flying mammals, there are things to know about the types of bats in Iowa.

This article will give you all the details you need to pick the suitable bat species for your needs!

1. Eastern Red Bat

The Eastern Red Bat has a body length of 7-8 inches and can weigh as much as 1/2 an ounce. These bats are not endangered, but humans rarely see them due to their shy nature. 

They’re typically found where you find extensive forests, such as deciduous or mixed forests with dense understory.

Eastern Red Bats hunt near forest edges or over water at night for small insects. Insects such as mosquitoes, gnats, flies, and occasionally moths and beetles.

2. Indiana Bat

Although it is rare to see one, Indiana bats are found as types of bats in Iowa. They typically live in forested areas, especially near wetlands and streams, and here they can find their favorite food: giant juicy bugs. 

To catch these insects, they use a type of sonar and echolocation. A sort of radar-like system. This allows them to navigate among trees and sense other animals and obstacles around them that would otherwise be invisible.

3. Mexican Free-tailed Bat

Maternity colonies typically exist from April to October, where pregnant females will gather and feed their babies. They provide their babies with an estimated 500 pounds of insects per night! These bats can eat up to 3,000 mosquitoes in one hour. 

A bat has a lifespan of around 15 years and is an excellent insect control, which helps farmers. Additionally, there are two types of Mexican free-tailed bats: Big Brown Bat and Eastern Pipistrelle.

These two species have a relatively large wingspan (10-11 inches), which helps them fly at speeds up to 20 miles per hour.

4. Hoary Bat

The hoary bat is a species native to North America, including parts of Canada. This tiny creature feeds on insects and beetles, which they locate by echolocation. Their natural habitat includes deciduous forests, cave systems, and other woodland regions. 

Hoary bats are most active during dusk and nighttime hours because that is when their prey comes out to play. You can often find them roosting with other types of bats in Iowa.Bats like big brown bats or eastern pipistrelles during daylight hours as well.

The hoary bat has adapted a white fur coat for camouflage purposes. This type typically lives among snow-covered trees and ground-level plant life all year round.

5. Big Brown Bat

Big brown bats are medium-sized bats with wingspan that ranges from six to seven inches. These bats roost primarily in tree cavities or under loose bark. Their hair is long and thick, which has earned them their name. 

Also, these bats typically have a diet consisting mainly of beetles, other night insects, and small vertebrates like mice and chipmunks. Backing up their size, these guys have a whopping 10-foot wingspan! 

These are primarily found in forests during fall migration when looking for bugs or fruit to eat. You’ll often find these cats roosting high up on branches.

6. Silver-haired Bat

There are many different types of bats in Iowa. One type you may have seen is a Silver-haired Bat. They have grayish or brown fur on their bodies, with white hair around their faces and on their wings. 

You can find this type of bat around our state’s farmland, wetlands, and rivers. An excellent way to tell them apart from other bats is that they do not hibernate in caves or buildings during winter months like other species.

However, they will rest high up in trees along woodland areas and near water sources during fall migration. Places where food sources are plentiful, such as insects and small fish. Sometimes at night, they will fly between forests looking for food.

7. Little Brown Bat

In truth, most bats are not aggressive and prefer to eat insects. The little brown bat is no exception, and its diet consists mainly of moths, beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers.

This bat has a weight range from 3.1-6.2 grams, with an average wingspan of just over eleven inches long. 

Little brown bats are among the types of bats in Iowa that can be found throughout most regions east of the Rocky Mountains and parts of Central America. 

Moreover, as dusk approaches, this kind of bat hunts for food by navigating through fields using echolocation.

It produces high-frequency sounds that bounce off objects such as trees or water. There it can find its prey more easily during nighttime hours when visibility is poor.

8. Northern Long-Eared Bat

The Northern Long-Eared Bat is one of four species in the United States. In eastern North America, Northern Long-Eared bats prefer large trees and old woodlots with few openings. They need a secluded environment to escape predators, especially while sleeping quickly. 

Also, they have a tail membrane that provides greater surface area for their rapid turns or circles during a flight than other types of bats.

This species prefers open forests or agricultural fields in southern Canada, and lots of dense tree patches near water sources feed on insects like beetles, moths, wasps, and flies.

9. Tricolored Bat

One of the types of bats in Iowa you’ll find is the tricolored bat. It’s found throughout the United States and reaches a length of 2 inches from head to the body. This tiny creature is nocturnal and primarily feeds on insects.


Bats have misunderstood creatures, but they play a massive role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem and should be appreciated for their actions.

Whether you’re interested in bats from an ecological standpoint or from the unique perspective of being a pet owner, knowing the different types of bats in Iowa will be incredibly beneficial. 

While it may seem like all bats are pretty much the same, they each have unique characteristics and habits, and these particular characteristics and habitats set them apart.

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