The Gray Bat (Myotis grisescens), is a small bat that lives in caves throughout the southern United States. It usually chooses caves which are located within one mile of a river or reservoir. The range of the endangered gray bat is concentrated in the cave regions of Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama, with occasional colonies and individuals found in adjacent states. The species’ present total population is estimated to number over 1,500,000. The gray bat’s range overlaps with that of the Indiana bat, also endangered.
The Gray Bat weighs 0.3 to 0.5 ounces. Its diet consists predominantly of insects. All species of the genus Myotis, including the gray bat, rest by day and forage at night. They often hunt and feed over water. The feeding flight usually alternate with periods of rest, during which the bats hang to digest their catch. Colonies of the gray bat travel up to 14 km from roost to foraging areas. The Gray Bat has a wingspan of about 11-12 inches and is uniformly dark gray.
Although gray bat numbers are still relatively high, their total population has decreased significantly during recent years. The gray bat is thought to have declined mainly due to destruction by vandals and disturbance by spelunkers and tourists. The reliance of the species on relatively few hibernacula is also a major reason behind its endangered status.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the gray bat as an endangered species on April 28, 1976.