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  • Nashville Educational Article of the Month - Biology of Tennessee little brown bat

Biology of Tennessee little brown bat

The Tennessee little brown bat has furs uniformly covering its body which is usually brown in color whereby the underneath fur is slightly pale with grayish fur. It has wing membranes that are dark brown in color; the membranes are also stretched out and thin in length. It has very small ears that are black and short.

Its size:
It is smaller in size and therefore weighs less than half an ounce and the wingspan is approximately eleven inches. An amazing fact about them is that the females are usually larger than the males.

The little brown bat lives in different roosting sites, ideally there are three common sites; day, night and hibernation roosts. The day and night roosts are usually used during spring, fall and summer while the hibernation ones are usually used during the winter periods.

They usually build their day roosts in trees, buildings, under the rocks or in caves and in most cases, the night roosts are also situated in the same locations as day roosts. They are usually located in different spots; and they are also in areas that cannot be easily identified by predators. The main function of the day and night roosts is to provide them shelter when they are sleeping and resting.

The hibernation roosts on the other hand are usually built miles away from the day and night roosts and they are specifically used during their hibernation period and they usually live in very large colonies.

Little brown bats are insectivorous therefore they will feed on mosquitoes, midges, wasps, moths, beetles among other insects. They usually echolocate to get hold of their prey, it is one of their perfect senses and is usually similar to the sonar for ships. This is how it works, the bat emits a very high frequency sound that will bounce off any objects in the environment, and they use the returned echo to determine the location and the size of their prey. In order to avoid malnourishment, they have to eat half their body weight of the insects that they have captured every night. New mothers have to eat more than their body weight in order to survive.

They live for approximately six to seven years but there are rare situations where they can live more than seven years.

Mating and reproduction
In most cases, their mating occurs in two phases usually known as the active and the passive phase. During the active phase, both the male and female are usually aware and alert whereas during the passive phase, only the males are active and they will try to mate with any torpid bats regardless of their sex.

After mating, the Tennessee bat females will go into nursery colonies where gestation lasts 50-60 days and each female will give birth to either one baby or twins. The babies constantly cling on their mothers nipples until they are two weeks old, and they fully mature in four weeks.

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