Whiskered bat Myotis mystacinus

Whiskered bat - click to enlargeThe whiskered bat is one of Northern Ireland's smallest bats and is also one of the rarest. Only a few roosts have been located and these are situated in roof spaces. The fur is quite long and dark greyish with a paler underside. They emerge just after dusk. During winter they hibernate.

SPECIES DESCRIPTION: The whiskered bat is the smallest of the Myotis species of bat in Ireland and is one of the rarest of all Northern Ireland's bats. The ears, muzzle and wing membranes are blackish brown and the fur is quite long and dark grey at the base. The underside is a dark to light grey colour. Ears are moderately long and narrow, extending 2mm beyond the muzzle when laid forward. Wings are narrow and almost translucent. The head and body length is between 35 and 48mm and the forearm from 30-37mm. Adults weigh between 5 and 7g in summer. The whiskered bat emerges in early dusk, usually before Daubenton's bat and Natterer's bat and they forage about 1.5-6m above the ground with a rapid, agile and weaving flight. During the summer, adult females form large maternity colonies, often in buildings. The adult males may be solitary during this time. During the winter, they hibernate in caves and cellars, but may also hibernate in houses and tree holes. Little is known about their breeding behaviour, although mating occurs during the September to October period and swarming behaviour at the entrances to caves and disused mines has been observed. Fertilisation is delayed until spring.

KEY IDENTIFICATION FEATURES:



© Jon Russ 2001. Text refereed by Angela Ross & Lynne Rendle.

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