Louisiana bats belong to a special group of mammals that can fly. No other Louisiana furred animal’s posse’s true flight. Their Louisiana wings are actually elongated hands which are covered with thin layers of skin, or membranes. There are almost 1000 Louisiana species of bats in the bat world. Forty-five Louisiana species are native to the United States and six of these are endangered. There are 11 Louisiana species of bats that can be found in Louisiana. People tend to be afraid of bats, partly because they are active at night (called nocturnal) and we do not have much interaction with them because we are mostly sleeping in the night.
Louisiana Rafinesque’s big-eared bats are known to form nursery colonies in large hollow trees. Louisiana hollow tree roosts provide stable internal environments, protection from predators, and often contain well-insulated areas that form the hot-air traps essential for rearing young. These Louisiana bats range throughout the southeastern United States from southern Virginia south and west to eastern Texas and northward along the Mississippi River valley to southern Indiana. Their range most closely approximates the historical range of great cypress Louisiana swamps, indicating that they may have formed a traditional reliance on these areas as roosting and/or foraging sites.
As much of these Louisiana swamp-lands have been drained and trees have been harvested, these Louisiana bats have apparently moved their maternity roosts into old buildings or attics. Louisiana Rafinesque’s big-eared bats are slow, agile flyers and appear to forage on a wide variety of small, nocturnal insects, especially moths. They hibernate near their Louisiana summer foraging grounds in old mines, caves, and cisterns.
Though widespread in the eastern U.S., this Louisiana bat is nowhere abundant and population levels appear to have declined in the past century due to loss of Louisiana summer roosting or foraging habitat and/or disturbance at winter hibernacula. Louisiana Rafinesque’s big-eared bats are at special risk where they form nursery or hibernation colonies in caves that are susceptible to recreational disturbance and in abandoned Louisiana mines slated for closure or reclamation.