Geoffroy’s Bat, Myotis emarginatus
Geoffroy’s bat (Myotis emarginatus) is vesper bat that can be found in many areas from Portugal and the Balkans in Southern Europe to wet regions in southwestern Asia. It is found from Palestine and the Caucasus to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and Oman. This bat also occurs in north-west Africa, in areas like Morocco and Tunisia, as well as in eastern areas of the Mediterranean. It prefers a habitat at an altitude of 5,905 feet, with the highest altitude in the Alps recorded at 2,664 feet.
Geoffroy’s bat prefers to roost in different areas depending on the season. In the warmer months of summer, it roosts in buildings or underground areas, preferring attics in mad made structures. During the winter, it chooses to roost exclusively in underground areas, like caves. It can be found in large numbers, with one nursing colony in Austria reaching 1,200 individuals. It will search for food over scrublands and grasslands, feeding exclusively on flies and spiders.
Although Geoffroy’s bat experienced a significant decline between the 1960’s and 1990’s, it has increased in some areas of its range, and has actually become locally common in some of them. In its European range, this species is connected to farming areas, so it is very sensitive to any disturbances there. It is also threatened by habitat loss and roost disturbances in attics and other buildings. In Africa, it is threatened by roost disturbances and destruction from fires and vandalism. It is also hunted in this area for traditional medicine practices.
In most areas of its range, Geoffroy’s bat is protected by legislation. International legal obligations with the Bonn Convention (Eurobats) and Bern Convention also protect it where possible. This bat is listed on the Annex IV of EU Habitats and Species Directive, as well as the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.” Natura 2000 in some areas of its range protects it. Conservation efforts include spreading awareness about the lack of medicinal value of the species, as well as roost and habitat protection.
Image Caption: A pair of Geoffroy’s bats at rest on a cave roof. Credit: Rémi Bigonneau/Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0)