Indiana Bat: Myotis sodalis
Genus/Species: Myotis sodalis
Common Name: Indiana bat
Federal Status: Endangered
FL Status: Federal-designated Endangered
FNAI Ranks: Not ranked
IUCN Status: EN (Endangered)
The Indiana bat is dark brown or grey and can reach a length of 3.4 inches (8.7 centimeters) and a wingspan of ten inches (25.4 centimeters). A distinct feature of the bat is a ridged spur of cartilage that is located on their foot, which stabilizes the bat while in flight. Indiana bats also have soft fur which separates them from a similar species, the little brown bat (Burgess 2011).
The diet of the Indiana bat primarily consists of insects, including moths and beetles.
Indiana bats begin breeding in October, as males will wait for the females to appear in their hibernacula (place of hibernation) to start mating. Females will breed with more than one mate. Bats do not nest, however, pregnant females will form nursery colonies. Females can retain sperm until the spring when eggs are fertilized. Their offspring are born in the summer and are weaned by the age of 31 days (Burgess 2011). Females usually give birth to only one pup per year; however, they can give birth to up to two. Bats are able to fly between the ages of three to six months old. They reach sexual maturity at the age of one year, which is considerably longer than other small mammals.
Bats are nocturnal hunters, typically remaining inactive throughout the day and flying at night to hunt for insects. During extended periods of inactivity bats go into a state of reduced activity called torpor. During torpor, bats decrease their heart rate and body temperature to conserve energy.
Habitat and Distribution
The Indiana bat has only been documented once in a cave in Florida, although their range includes the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Species Profile, n.d.).
When listed, the primary threat to Indiana bats was disturbance at hibernacula. Commercializing caves threatened the Indiana bat as the increased human presence and disturbance in the cave can lead to the bats abandoning these caves (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fact Sheet, n.d.). The gates used by officials to keep people out of caves harmed bats by readjusting the caves temperature, humidity, and airflow (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species, n.d.). These gates can also prevent bats from entering the cave. Currently, the greatest threat to Indiana bats may be the disease White Nose Syndrome, caused by a fungus found on the nose and wings of bats. The Indiana bat population has declined by an estimated 72% at hibernacula since the disease began spreading throughout the U.S. (Turner et al 2011). Destruction of wooded forests is an ongoing threat to the Indiana bat. Urban development continues to extend into undisturbed areas, including forests. Destruction of forest eliminates roosting and foraging areas for the Indiana bat. The use of pesticides to kill insects can be a threat to bats because it limits food availability and can be toxic to bats that eat affected insects. Other threats include the flooding of caves from man-made impoundments and natural flooding events. Wind farms are an emerging threat as new sites are developed within the range of the Indiana bat.
Conservation and Management
The Indiana bat is protected as an Endangered species by the Federal Endangered Species Act and as a Federally-designated Endangered species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule .
Federal Recovery Plan
Other Informative Links
Animal Diversity Web
International Union for Conservation of Nature
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Species Profile
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species Information
U.S. Forest Service
Printable version of this page
Burgess, A. 2011. "Myotis sodalis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 27, 2011 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myotis_sodalis.html .
Turner, G.G., D.M. Reeder, and J.T.H. Coleman. 2011. A five-year assessment of mortality and geographic spread of white-nose syndrome in North American bats and a look to the future. Bat Research News. 52(2): 13-27.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (n.d.). Indiana Bat (Myotis Sodalis). Retrieved May 25, 2011, from Species Profile: http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=A000
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (n.d.). Indiana Bat (Myotis Sodalis. Retrieved May 25, 2011, from Endangered Species: http://www.fws.gov/Midwest/endangered/mammals/inba/index.html
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (n.d.). Indiana Bat (Myotis Sodalis). Retrieved May 25, 2011, from Endangered Species Fact Sheet: http://www.fws.gov/Midwest/endangered/mammals/inba/inbafctsht.html
Image Credit USFWS