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Virginia Big Eared Bat

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The Virginia Big Eared Bat
(corynorthinus townsendii virginianus)

The Purpose of this recovery plan is to restore self-sustaining populations of Virginia’s Big Ear Bat. The taxonomy of this species is that it is in the class Mammalia, order chiroptera family vespertilionidae, genus corynorthinus, species corynorthinus townsendii, subspecies corynorthinus townsendii virginianus. (ITIS, 2015) The Virginia Big Eared Bat is a mid-sized bat that weighs around seven to twelve grams. Its body is 9.8 cm long and the ears that it is named after are 2.5 cm long. It has distinctive facial glands on both sides of its nose. The fur on both the ventral and dorsal sides of the bat is mono-colored and brown. (Kunz and Martin, 1982; Reynolds and Fernald, 2015) The US distribution of the Virginia Big Eared Bat is in areas of East-Central Kentucky, parts of West Virginia, northern portions of North Carolina, and in the westernmost parts of Virginia in the James and Potomac River tributary valleys. (Sullivan, 2009) The distribution within Virginia is in six eastern counties. At this moment it is known to take residence within three caves in Tazewell County during the summer, and five caves spread through the Highland, Bland and Tazewell counties during the winter. It is only one of two Virginia bat species which roost in caves in the summer. Also it is not that they live in just any cave they only live within limestone caves. There are also only three known maternity colonies. (Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 2015)

The Life cycle of this bat is that it has two life stages. These two life stages are young and adult. The breeding times of this animal are sometime between November and February. (Sullivan, 2009) The male will approach females making loud tweeting like noises and if she finds him a suitable mate she will let him rub the glands on his face all over her body. This effectively scent marks her to him. The female is normally in a state of torpor when copulation takes place and her body stores the sperm in the reproductive tract till spring when ovulation, implantation, and gestation takes place. Once the spring comes around the females fly to certain caves and form maternity colonies away from the males and stay there until around August. (Sullivan, 2009) There is normally only one pup. (ECOS, 2015) The females have all the responsibility in parental care for the babies. The young are born naked and their eyes are down over their eyes for the first few days. During the first six weeks the pups cling to the backs of their mothers during the day. At night when the mothers go off in search of food they huddle together in the cave. After those first six weeks they are weaned and become independent just a little time after that. (Sullivan, 2009) A baby bat is fairly large at around twenty-five percent its mothers weight after the birth. (Kuntz and Martin, 1982) The baby bats grow fairly rapidly with the babies naked and the eyes covered by their ears right when they are born. During the first few hours of the bats life they can begin to make audible chirping noises. After a few days the ears are pulled back away from the eyes and the bats can see. Their ability of flight comes after two and a half to three weeks. The baby bat is completely waned from the mother after six weeks. (Kuntz and Martin, 1982) The Virginia Big Eared Bat is an insectivore with almost its entire source of food coming from moths. (Wildlife Diversity Notebook, 2006) Some of the predators of the Virginia Big Eared Bat are Owls, Hawks, Raccoons, skunks, house cats, and humans. (Bat Worlds, 2013) They are active during the night while staying in their caves during the day. (Sullivan, 2009) They are active during the spring and summer while hibernating in the fall and winter. (Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 2015) The home ranges of these bats are relatively small and the farthest any single bat has been found to leave from its roost is around eight kilometers. (Adam, et. al,) The last population count for the Virginia Big Eared Bat in 2000 was around 18,442 bats. (Center for Biological Diversity, 2000) The Virginia Big Eared Bat prefers to live in dark cool areas. This leads them to live in caves but not just any caves. It only lives in limestone caves. Normally these caves are surrounded by oak and hickory forests. (Kentucky Bat Working Group) The ecological role of the Virginia Big Eared Bat is that of pest control. The bat keeps the populations of moths down. This especially helpful in places that have a lot of destructive gypsy moths. (Sullivan, 2009) The life span of the bat is around 15 to 16 years. (Sullivan, 2009; Wildlife Diversity, Notebook, 2006)
The threats that the Virginia Big Eared Bat face are human disturbance of the caves the bats are using. (Gruver and Keinath, 2006) During spring and summer intrusions into a maternity colony can cause the female bats to become startled and drop their young from their backs who may never be recovered. Also if too disturbed they may leave the site and not return. During the fall and winter the bats are in hibernation the bats have a very limited supply of fat stored to get them through the winter. Each time they are awoken they use up a lot of that fat and if they are awoken too much they can starve to death. Also just like the females at the maternity colonies if they are disturbed too much they might leave and never return and freeze to death. Another threat is white nose syndrome. (Center for Biological Diversity, 2015) White nose syndrome is a disease that is caused by a fungus called pseudogymnoascus destuctans that enters into and begins to eat the skin of only hibernating bats. The disease kills around seventy percent to ninety percent of the bats that it infects and in some cases one hundred percent. Entire colonies of bats have been wiped out by this disease. Another threat is habitat destruction. (Gruver and Keinath, 2006) The sealing of abandoned mines can keep bats from escaping and causing them to starve to death. This will also keep others from returning to the spot. Also the removal of rocks and such from inside of the cave can affect the habitat and temperature within the cave. The last threat is pesticides killing their food source (Wildlife Diversity Notebook, 2006) The Virginia Big Eared Bat is actually pretty resistant to pesticides unlike other bats but the fact that it is solely an insectivore means that the killing of all the insects takes away its food source. For the threats of human disturbance of the bats and the white nose syndrome the best course of action is to limit human access to the caves and mines that the bats inhabit. Fences, gates and signs can be put up so that people know not to enter them. This will keep the people from waking the bats and also help to stem the transfer of the disease into the cave. If entrance to the cave is needed by researchers or biologist they need to follow the newest decontamination process set forth by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. For the threat of habitat destruction the caves that the bats are found in need to be protected and not allowed to be filled in or to have people come in and remove the rocks. For the threat of pesticides killing off of the bats food source there needs to a regulation set on how much pesticide can be used around the areas that the bats live. The bats themselves are natural pesticides in a sense because they can eat up to 1,000 bugs within one night.


1.) Adam, Michael and Michael Lacki and Thomas Barnes. “Forage Areas and Habitat Use of the Virginia Big-Eared Bat in Kentucky.” ResearchGate. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. 2.) “Bat Predators.” Bat Worlds. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. Http:// 3.) Campbell, Dana. "Plecotus Townsendii Virginianus." Encyclopedia of Life. Web. 2 Oct. 2015. - 4.) “Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus.” ITIS Report. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. 5.) Gruver, Jeffery, and Douglas Keinath. "A Technical Conservation Assessment." Society for - Conservation Biology. Web. 2 Oct. 2015. - 6.) Kunz, Thomas, and Robert Martin. "Plecotus Townsendii." The American Society of Mammalogists. - Web. 2 Oct. 2015. 7.) Reynolds, R.J. and R.T. Fernald. 2015. A Guide to the Bats of Virginia. Bureau of Wildlife Resources Special Publication Number 5, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Richmond. 25pp. 8.) "Species Profile for Virginia Big-Eared Bat (Corynorhinus (=plecotus) Townsendii Virginianus)." - Environmental Conservation Online System. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Web. 2 Oct. 2015. - 9.) Sullivan, Jen. “Corynorhinus Townsendii (Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat).” Animal Diversity Web. Web. 2 - Oct. 2015. 10.) “Virginia Big-Eared Bat.” Center for Biological Diversity. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. 11.) “Virginia Big-Eared Bat.” Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. 12.) “Virginia Big-Eared Bat.” Kentucky Bat Working Group. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. 13.) “Virginia Big-Eared Bat.” Wildlife Diversity NoteBook. Web. 26 Oct. 2015 14.) “Virginia big-eared bat (Corynorhinus (= Plecotus) townsendii virginianus)” Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Web. 26 Oct. 2015 15.) “White-Nose Syndrome: Questions and Answers” Center for Biological Diversity. Web. 26 Oct. 2015…...

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