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
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
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
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
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.
Genera & Species Nyctalus noctula
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