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The noctule bat is golden to dark brown above and usually pale brown below; juveniles are darker than adults. The wing membranes, nose, and ears are blackish-brown. One of the largest bats in Europe, it ranges from 2 to 4 inches in length, with a tail of 1-2½ inches, and weighs ½-1¾ ounces.
Distribution and Habitat
Noctules are common throughout Europe (except for northern Scotland, Ireland, and northern Scandinavia) and most of temperate Asia. They are migratory, traveling south-southwest to hibernate in caves and traveling a range of 50-465 miles north-northeast to summer roosting sites. Not all individuals of a population migrate, however; some may overwinter in a hollow log or woodpecker hole.
Noctules generally reside in forests, but may forage in open areas and dwell in or near human habitation. Roosting sites include hollow trees, buildings, and caves.
These bats eat winged ants, moths, and other insects, but are particulary fond of beetles. Like most other bats, they locate their prey using echolocation, and go after it with fast, high flight, making rapid turns and diving frequently.
Mating takes place between August and October, during which time a single male defends a mating roost of 4 to 5 females against other males. Fertilization is delayed until the following spring, however, and 1 or 2 (rarely 3) young are born after a gestation of 50-70 days (between May and June).
The young can fly at 4 weeks of age and reach independence at around 7 weeks.
The noctule's voice is described as sharp, stacatto cries or prolonged trilling similar to the song of a bird.
Pregnant females roost in trees and buildings in groups of as many as 400 bats until after their young are weaned. During this time, males leave and become solitary. In early autumn, males congregate and set up territories in hollow trees. Females then aggregate at these sites and enter transient harems for mating.
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This page was last updated on June 27, 2017.