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Facts About the Grey Long-eared Bat

Malvika Kulur
The grey long-eared bat is a rare, medium-sized European bat. This nocturnal mammal is an intriguing creature, and it is often confused with the brown long-eared bat. Here are some facts about this interesting nocturnal mammal.

Did You Know?

The grey long-eared bat is one of the rarest mammals in the United Kingdom. Due to its rarity, it is one of the least studied bat species.
The scientific name of the grey long-eared bat is Plecotus austriacus. In English, it is also known as the gray big-eared bat, in French it is called Oreillard Gris, and in Spanish―Orejudo Gris.
The most striking feature of this bat species is its ears. They are long, and nearly the length of its body. These bats are sedentary species, and do not migrate to very long distances.
Even though there are around 1,000 of these bats left in Britain, the IUCN has put them under the Least Concern category. Grey long-eared bats have a unique method of echolocation. The pulse of echolocation is low and very quiet so that this bat can find its prey without notifying it in any way.
Due to its size and echolocation, this bat is categorized as a microbat, or Microchiroptera. Bats of this category are also called 'insectivorous bats', 'echolocating bats', 'small bats', or 'true bats'.

Grey Long-eared Bat Facts

Scientific Classification of Grey Long-eared Bat

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Chiroptera
Family: Vespertilionidae
Genus: Plecotus
Species: P. austriacus


♦ The grey long-eared bat is characterized with gray fur with a pale belly.
♦ The membranes in the ears and the wings are black in color, and these bats have large eyes.
♦ Due to the dark coloring on its nose and upper lips, this bat appears to have a dark mask.

Vital statistics of Grey Long-eared Bat

Head and body length: 41mm - 58mm
Forearm length: 
37mm - 45mm
255mm - 300mm
7g - 12g
 5mm - 6.5mm
5.2mm - 6.6mm

Habitat and Distribution

♦ Grey long-eared bats are found to the south and southeast England, north Mediterranean coast, west Black Sea coast, southwest Wales, Germany, Poland, France, Romania, Austria, Italy, and at a latitude of up to 53ºN.

♦ In England, it is found in Devon, Hampshire, Dorset, Channel Islands, Somerset, Isle of Wight, and Sussex.
♦ These bats are known to forage in gardens, farms, grasslands, forest edges, and meadows.

♦ Usually, they travel a distance of up to 4 miles away from the roost.

♦ These bats are colonial and territorial in nature, often having a population of around 20 bats per roost in winters, and the number can go up to around 60 in summer.
♦ They make their houses in abandoned structures that have large roofs with open roof voids.

♦ Grey long-eared bats also take up residence in fissures, cavities, rafters of buildings, during the summer months, as these places are away from humans and keep the bats covered and protected.
♦ During winter, these bats have been observed to hibernate in rock crevices, cellars, mines, attics, and caves, as they have a very high tolerance to cold.

♦ This species is endemic to Europe, and its population is concentrated in the southern part.

Diet and Procreation

♦ Grey long-eared bats are insectivorous. Their diet consists of moths (Lepidoptera and Noctuidae), small beetles (Coleoptera), crane flies (Tipulidae), and woodlice (Isopoda).

♦ These bats are very skilled fliers and make use of echolocation to find food.

♦ The minimum call duration is 1.7 ms―at a minimum frequency of 29.8 kHz and maximum frequency of 62.5kHz―and the interpulse interval is of 104.2 ms.

♦ Very little is known about the mating behavior and reproduction cycle of this bat species.
♦ What is known is that these bats mate during autumn (September to November), but due to their hibernation period, the fertilization of the embryo is pushed to spring.

♦ They deliver a single bat pup around mid-June, and the pup starts to fly around August.

Threats and Conservation

♦ The main reasons for the declining numbers of this bat species are human encroachment on its habitat, loss of foraging grounds, use of pesticides (to kill the insects it feeds on), human recreational activities, like mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking, etc.
♦ Measures are being taken towards the conservation of these bats. All bat species in Great Britain are protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), and by the Conservation Regulations (1994).
♦ The National Bat Monitoring Program aims at identifying and preserving bat roosts, by increasing awareness at places that these bats roost in.

♦ All European bats are listed under Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory species (CMS), which is also known as the Bonn Convention, due to an agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe (EUROBATS).
Grey long-eared bats, being so rare, have many laws that protect them. For example, in Britain, it is illegal to take, buy, sell, injure, and kill a bat, and also cause any harm to its roost. It's a great initiative taken to stop the decline of bat population.