Mammals on the Wing: Welcome to Bat Appreciation Month in The Last Green Valley

Mammals on the Wing: Welcome to Bat Appreciation Month in The Last Green Valley

For some reason October is our national Bat Appreciation Month, with Bat Appreciation Week at the end of the month including Halloween. Unfortunately, linking bats to Halloween reinforces the stereotype that our only flying mammal represents vampires, death and disease, rather than the very useful role these amazing animals play in our natural world. I am happy to report International Bat Appreciation Month is April, a more apt time of year when bats typically emerge from winter hibernation.

Here in The Last Green Valley, we celebrate July as Bat Appreciation Month because it is the time of year bats are most active and are rearing their young (pups). Our state wildlife biologists and volunteers can gather important data on bat populations in our region during summer months. Here is information about bats from the DEEP Wildlife Division website.

“Bats are among the world’s most fascinating, beneficial and likable animals, yet people often fear and misunderstand them. They are the only mammals capable of true flight. There are over 1,300 different species of bats in the world – nine different species of bats can be found in Connecticut, and all but one of them (the Big Brown bat) are on Connecticut’s List of Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern Species.”

“The Little Brown and Big Brown bats were the most common bat species found in Connecticut until white-nose syndrome (WNS) was documented in the state in 2008. Several Connecticut bat populations have been devastated by WNS. The affected species, known as ‘cave bats,’ have declined so dramatically that several were added to Connecticut’s List of Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern Species in 2015. The big brown bat is considered a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (GCN) in Connecticut’s Wildlife Action Plan, along with all of the state-listed bat species.”

“The three species of tree-roosting bats – Silver-haired, Hoary, and Eastern Red bat – are not adversely affected by WNS, but their populations have declined from historical levels in eastern woodlands. They occur in relatively low numbers throughout Connecticut. All three have been listed as species of special concern in Connecticut since the first official list was released in 1992.”

For additional information from CT DEEP check out their fact sheet at:

Here are basic descriptions of each bat you may encounter in The Last Green Valley. This information is taken directly from a very handy guide to bats, the “Stokes Beginner’s Guide to Bats” by Kim William, Rob Mies and Donald and Lillian Stokes, published in 2002.

Big Brown Bat, Eptesicus fuscus, is a medium to large brown bat with color variation from light to dark brown, with females larger than males. They can live at least 19 years. They are our most common bats and during the day roost in dark places, including attics, barns, behind shutters, under bridges and in bat houses. During the spring and summer months the females form maternity colonies of 20 to 500 bats and the males are mostly solitary. In our region they mainly hibernate in buildings.

Eastern Pipistrelle Bat, Pipistrellus subflavus, is a small bat with tri-colored fur; the base of the hair is dark, the middle lighter and the tip is dark. The colors vary from a pale yellow to silvery gray, golden-brown or black. They roost in maternity colonies in clusters of leaves with some roosting in buildings. They hibernate in caves, mines and rock crevices.

Eastern Red Bat, Lasiurus borealis, is a medium-sized bat with long pointed wings and short rounded ears with bright orange-brown to reddish-brown fur. Males are more brightly colored than females. They are solitary bats, roosting hidden within leaves, typically on the south side of the tree. In colder regions they will migrate in groups to southern warmer states where they will hibernate in trees.

Eastern Small-footed Bat, Myotis leibii, is one of the smallest bats in the U.S. It has golden brown fur that is glossy on its back. Roosting females form colonies of 20 or fewer bats. This bat was thought to no longer be in Connecticut, however, an echolocation sighting occurred in 2015 and a live specimen was confirmed in 2018. Before this discovery the last documented specimen in the state had been in the 1940s.

Hoary Bat, Lasiurus cinereus, is a large bat, beautifully colored with blackish-brown or tan at the base of fur to tips of white, giving it a frosted appearance. It is one of the most widespread species in the U.S. It is a solitary bat that roosts in tree foliage. Those in northern regions migrate to warmer regions for the winter, sometimes migrating together in flocks.

Indiana Bat, Myotis sodalist, is a small bat with dark gray to dark brown fur. Females form maternity colonies and males roost near maternity sites. They choose dead or dying trees and roost under loose bark and sometimes in cavities. They hibernate in caves or mines.

Little Brown Bat, Myotis lucifugus, is a small bat. The Little Brown Bat has a glossy pale tan to dark brown fur with an evenly colored coat. This species can live more than 30 years but is also a species drastically impacted by white-nose syndrome with up to 90 percent population decline in the past two decades.

Northern Long-eared Bat, Myotis septentrionalis, is a small bat with pale to dark brown fur. The ears are very large, up to 0.7 inches long, and black in color. Males roost alone during summer months and the females roost together in colonies of 60 or fewer bats. They are found in barns, under shutters and in trees, with shagbark hickory a favorite for roosting under the bark. Winter roosts for hibernation are in caves.

Silver-haired Bat, Lasionycteris noctivagans, is a medium-sized black bat with silver-tipped fur. They roost singly or in small groups in wooded areas, in hollows and cracks and tree crevices. They migrate and travel in groups to hibernating grounds and will hibernate in buildings, rock crevices, trees or caves.

This is Bat Month here in The Last Green Valley, and TLGV will be posting information over the next few weeks about these important and fascinating animals. Look to TLGV’s social media pages for these regular postings. Bat Month culminates on July 29th with a special program to see bats and help count them during sunset as they leave a barn roost to feed. We’ll be joined by Devaughn Fraser, a CT DEEP Wildlife Biologist specializing in bats. This 2-part program is open to both children and adults. For more information contact me at or call 860-774-3300.

We live in a very special place called The Last Green Valley. Our region is home to fascinating animals, including the several species of bats. I hope you’ll join me and together we can enjoy it, care for it, and pass it on.

Bill Reid is the Chief Ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. He can be reached at 860-774-3300 or by email at

Exploring The Last Green Valley – July 2, 2023

The Norwich Bulletin is granted first serial rights and associated electronic rights to publish the following article.  The Last Green Valley, Inc. retains all other rights to the work.


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