Montana wants to keep its healthy population of bats. They are helpful to have around. Just one little brown bat, one of the most common bats in Montana, can eat 1,200 nocturnal insects an hour. Think of the mosquitoes that could be managed by a healthy population of bats. They also help control beetles, leafhoppers, fleas and moths.
Montana has 15 known species of bats. Some of the bats are migratory bats. One of interesting things about the bats and migration in Montana is that some bats migrate to stay and winter and others migrate from the winter. Montana has bats coming and going.
Little Brown Myotis (Myotis luciguas)
This bat is a very common bat. It has fur that is glossy and shiny. The bat is a little over three inches long and has a wingspan from 8.66 to 10.3 inches.
Yuma Myotis (Myotis yumanensis)
This bat is fairly common in western Montana, but typically stays west of the Continental Divide. It is known for foraging low and over water. It is a non-migratory bat.
Long-Legged Myotis (Myotis volans)
These bats have their maternity roosts in trees. They hibernate in mines and caves. They are a non-migratory bat. They have long, soft fur and rounded ears.
Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis)
This bat has long ears that are pressed forward. It resides in eastern Montana. They prefer mixed conifer forests. These bats roost singly under the loose bark of trees or occasionally behind window shutters.
These bats like to forage over water, even if it is standing water. In Montana these bats reside in Jefferson and Ravalli counties. They may be in other areas, but there are no confirmed reports. They prefer an open semi-desert or dry Ponderosa forest.
Long-Eared Myotis (Myotis evotis)
These bats have long soft fur. The colors go from light brown to a pale yellow-brown. They do have shoulder spots as well. The day roosts are in trees under loose bark, and at night they move to the caves.
California Myotis (Myotis californicus)
This bat has full, long fur that is not glossy. The habitat for this species varies a great deal. They are found in humid climates and in the semi-desert as well. While they forage on vegetation it is usually found near water.
This is non-migratory bat. The roosts are varied, including rock faces, clay banks, beneath boulders and between boulders. They can also roost in barns and under bark. They typically forage along rocky cliffs and slopes.
Spotted Bat (Euderma maculatum)
This is a fairly large bat. It has black fur with large white spots. It is one of the rarest mammal species in the United States. It is believed that this bat may migrate in the winter, but that is unconfirmed.
Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris nocotivagans)
As its name implies, this bat has a very distinctive fur pattern. It has a frosted silver appearance ,especially on its back. It is a migratory species and males and females have separate migratory patterns.
Eastern Red Bat (Lisiurus borealis)
One of the things that makes this bat unique is that is roosts almost exclusively in the foliage of trees. Roosting sites are usually very close to the ground in very dense foliage. This is a migratory bat.
Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)
This bat is rather large (five inches in length). It has ears that are short and broad. It is a migratory bat. It roosts most often at the end of branches.
Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat (Plecotus townsendii)
This bat finds maternity colonies in warm caves. There are only four known breeding colonies in Montana. They have very large ears and two very large masses on their snout.
Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)
Typically this is a large city bat. It has brown fur. Maternity colonies are mostly found in man-made buildings. Rarely have they been found in trees.
Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus)
This bat has relatively short and thin fur. The average length of the bat is 4.65 inches. In Montana the bat has only been found in Carbon County.
Residents of Montana are grateful for the bats. They have been instrumental in stopping the spread of the West Nile virus. They are helpful with pest control and growing of crops. There is very little transfer of rabies through the bats.