Ozark Big-eared Bat, Corynorhinus townsendii ingens

The Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii ingens) is the largest of all five subspecies under Corynorhinus townsendii. Its range is highly limited to a few caves in the central southern areas of the United States. Its range once included Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, but these areas were abandoned due to human activity and disturbances.  Its other common names include the long-eared bat, the lump-nosed bat, and the western big-eared bat.

The Ozark big-eared bat has large, nearly one-inch long ears and a distinctive nose, which bear lumps. These features give it two of its common names. Its fur is red, and it can weigh between .2 and .5 ounces. It prefers karst habitats with abundant oak-hickory forests, and roosts in caves throughout the year. The caves must have a temperature between forty and fifty degrees Fahrenheit, so if the caves vary too much in temperature, the bats have a high risk of death.

Like many species of bat, the Ozark big-eared bat roosts separately during mating season in fall. Females choose to roost in caves with higher temperatures between fifty and fifty-nine degrees Fahrenheit. As is typical to bats, females will store sperm in order to delay pregnancy, which occurs after hibernation is over in the winter. One pup is born, and will mature rapidly. At three weeks of age, the pup can fly and it will be weaned at only six weeks of age.

Many things, including habitat loss and fragmentation, pesticide exposure, and the disease known as white-nose syndrome threaten the Ozark big-eared bat. These bats are even killed because they are thought to be pests. However, the diet of these bats, primarily insects that humans consider pests, makes them very important to humans.

Image Caption: Ozark Big-Eared Bat (Corynorhinus (Plecotus) townsendii ingens). Credit: Brenda Clark/Sherlockhemlock/Wikipedia