10 Types of Bats in North Dakota

Types of Bats in North Dakota
Photo by Peter Neumann

Bats are mammals and fall under the order Chiroptera (meaning hand-wing), which comprises all species of bats worldwide.

One of the most exciting things about types of bats in North Dakota is that their forelimbs are evolved into wings that allow them to fly, making them the only mammals that can indeed fly with their power! 

There are 2,232 species of bats in the world, making up 20% of all mammal species.

Many people think that bats are scary and dangerous, but the truth is that most species of bats are entirely harmless to humans and other living things.

Bats are found throughout the world except for Antarctica and some oceanic islands; there are 35 species native to North Dakota alone!

1. Western Small-Footed Bat

The Western Small-footed Bat is a small bat species found primarily in the western half of the United States.

Like other bats, it can be identified by its furry body, rounded ears, and wing membranes that stretch from the elbows to its feet. 

They are nocturnal mammals that will typically roost during the day and forage at night. These types of bats in North Dakota are insectivores who feed on moths, beetles, flies, and insects with sharp teeth and strong claws to catch them.

When they find prey, they use echolocation, a sound that bounces off objects to create echoes. 

Some Western Small-footed Bats will migrate, but most stay within an area year-round; hibernation spots can range from caves or crevices to under tree bark or logs.

Some populations may also share a habitat with Brown Bats because these two species prefer similar food sources.

However, western Small-feet Bat populations have been declining over time, although much research has not been done to determine why this might be.

2. Silver-Haired Bat

One type of bat, the Silver-haired Bat, is endangered and can only be found in western North Dakota.

These types of bats in North Dakota typically eat small insects. They have been known to eat locusts, moths, grasshoppers, mayflies, and more. 

In addition to this species being on the verge of extinction due to habitat loss, silver-haired bats are also at risk because they do not reproduce quickly enough.

It takes a silver-haired bat an entire year to reach maturity and produce one offspring! With so few of these bats left, we must work hard to protect their habitat.  

The Department of Game and Fish has proposed three areas that would make perfect homes for the silver-haired bat: Sioux County near Orin, Stark County near Lakota, or Grand Forks County.

All three sites have plenty of land with good water sources, caves for roosting, and nearby trees for food.

3. Big Brown Bat

The big brown bat is one of the most common types of bats found in North Dakota. They are typically located near streams, ponds, and lakes during warmer months and can also be seen roosting under bridges.

They have a wingspan ranging from 12 to 16 inches and weigh between 3 and 6 ounces. 

They can be differentiated from other species by their reddish-brown fur on their back with lighter-colored coats on their stomachs.

These types of bats in North Dakota are active at night and hunt by flying close to the ground looking for small insects like flies, mosquitoes, beetles, moths, and mayflies. 

When they detect prey, they land and capture it with their feet or mouth. Big brown bats can live up to 20 years in the wild, but some individuals can live up to 30 years.

Females give birth twice yearly, producing only one pup per litter, weighing about 1/3 ounce (10 grams).

4. Little Brown Bat

The Little brown bat is one of the most common bats found in North America. They are small, light brown, and have a wingspan between six and ten inches. Their ears are short with a pointed nose. 

These types of bats in North Dakota typically feed on insects like flies, mosquitos, beetles, moths, and other small flying insects.

Though they often roost alone or in colonies of up to 250 individuals, they prefer to find a roost close to a water source because they drink from the water when thirsty. The gestation period of a little brown bat is 40–60 days. 

The average life span is three years, but it may reach up to 20 years, with a few living as long as 30 years. Their average body weight varies from 3–6 grams, and they are about two inches long, not including their nine-inch wingspan.

One characteristic that sets them apart from other bats is that they do not hibernate during the winter months; instead, they fly south where temperatures are warmer. 

5. Hoary Bat

One type of bat found in North Dakota is the Hoary bat. It is a migratory bat located east of the Rocky Mountains. They migrate to warmer climates during the winter and return north when it gets warm. 

The wingspan of this bat can be up to twelve inches, and they weigh just under half an ounce. These types of bats in North Dakota are insectivores and prefer flying insects like mosquitoes, moths, beetles, flies, etc. They also have an echolocation system that helps them navigate and catch prey. 

They emit high-frequency sounds that bounce off objects and then hear these echoes to determine where their food is located.

Mating occurs in the late spring or early summer, and females will give birth to one pup each year. 

6. Long-Legged Bat

This species is relatively common throughout the eastern United States. The long-legged bat is one of the most minor and typical bats people are likely to see. It has a wingspan that ranges from 6 to 10 inches. 

These types of bats in North Dakota can generally roost in trees, buildings, and other structures. They are also known for being among the few bats to use echolocation calls outside their usual hunting area.

Like many different types of bats in North Dakota, the long-legged bat feeds on insects, including mosquitos, moths, and beetles. 

When out at night looking for food, these tiny mammals emit ultrasonic squeaks, which help them find prey. The call is cast as a series of pulses that range from 20 to 150 kilohertz.

Unlike other bats, the long-legged bat will often use its echolocation calls while not hunting – perhaps to determine whether or not it’s safe to track or if there are any obstacles nearby.

When roosting, this bat species generally hang upside down from tree limbs, roofs, and sometimes inside caves. Females typically give birth to two young per year during late May or June. 

As with all animals, the population of long-legged bats is shrinking because of habitat loss caused by human development; agriculture; timber harvesting; overgrazing by livestock; urbanization; pollution; climate change, and human encroachment into areas where they once thrived

7. Northern Long-Eared Bat

The Northern Long-eared Bat is a small bat that weighs about 1/4 to 1/3 of an ounce. They are also called the Northern Myotis. It has a wingspan of about 11 inches and a tail about 1.5 inches long. 

These types of bats in North Dakota have broad ears that are usually about 3/4 inch long. Their fur color varies from brown to grayish-brown; sometimes, the fur on their back is darker than the fur on their stomachs. 

They hibernate during winter but can be active at night even when it’s below freezing outside because they have an extra layer of fat under their skin to keep them warm.

During the day, they find a place to sleep, like a tree hole or crevice near trees where there isn’t much wind. In many cases, these bats form maternity colonies that house up to 500 females. 

These colonies are located in hollow trees and large rock formations close to water sources for drinking.

When not sleeping, these bats feed primarily on insects like beetles and moths, which they catch while flying just above ground level.

To capture prey, these bats will emit a high-frequency call followed by clicks as sound waves echo off objects ahead of them, causing echoes with longer distances and shorter times between each echo, leading the way to food sources.

8. Long-Eared Bat

The Long-eared Bat is a common species in North America, including Minnesota and North Dakota. They are smaller than other bats, usually 2-3 inches long.

The fur on their back is light brown, while the underside is white or gray. They have round ears that stick out at the side of their head. 

Long-eared bats like to live in old buildings, caves, and trees with large cavities. When they find a place they want, they will hibernate there every year until spring returns to their area.

When active during summer, these types of bats in North Dakota can be seen eating insects such as moths, flies, beetles, and many more from evening twilight until dawn. 

Long-eared bats migrate north in the fall before winter begins to come around again. Unfortunately, their population numbers often increase when they leave because it’s not uncommon for them to eat up to 1/3 of their body weight per night! 

When these bats feed, they use echolocation to find their prey and help determine how far away it is. Other bats also use echolocation, but Long-eared bats use echolocation almost exclusively.

These little guys are some of my favorites because I’m always amazed by how small yet intelligent they can be!

9. Eastern Red Bat

The Eastern Red Bat is one of North America’s most populous bat species. It lives mostly east of the Mississippi River but can be found as far west as the Dakotas. They are insectivores and eat thousands of bugs each night to get their fill. 

These types of bats in North Dakota live around forests and wooded areas but do not hibernate or migrate like other species.

They are not endangered because they have a large population, with about five million found in New England alone. Males often mate with multiple females at once, resulting in many offspring. 

Even though this species is not endangered and has many offspring, that does not mean you should come into contact with them. If an eastern red bat is bitten, seek immediate medical attention for rabies! 

You will start feeling the effects of rabies within three weeks after being bit. In some cases, death could occur from rabies within six weeks.

Luckily there is a vaccine for rabies, so if you were vaccinated against it before being exposed to a rabid animal, there is no risk of getting infected.

10. Silver-Haired Bat

One typical bat to see in northern Montana is the Silver-haired Bat. This small, insect-eating bat is often seen around summer evenings and roosts on buildings, trees, and bridges.

They are one of the most miniature bats found in North Dakota and are often confused with a mouse or flying squirrel. 

The silver-haired bat is a nocturnal animal which means it roosts during the day and sleeps at night. It prefers to eat insects such as moths, mosquitoes, beetles, and flies.

These types of bats in North Dakota live across most parts of Montana but are usually not seen on Mount Sentinel because they don’t like high elevations.


There are many types of bats in North Dakota that are important for the ecosystem. In fact, without them, we would lose one-third of the world’s pollinators!

There is a type for everyone, from fruit bats to long-eared bats to vampire bats.

The most well-known species is the Mexican long-nosed bat, which we hope will be granted endangered status soon.

They help control populations of insects such as mosquitoes. Without bats, mosquitos could overpopulate due to their high reproductive rates.

One type of bat that has increased in population numbers is the Evening Bat.

It was once almost extinct but has made an incredible comeback due to conservation efforts and artificial roosts (bats only come out at night).

As you can see, there are many types of bats in North Dakota; they’re just waiting to meet you!

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