Watchable Wildlife: Little Brown Bats


Bats are widely misunderstood. They are not blind and they are not rodents. In fact, most bats see very well and are more closely related to primates and humans than they are to mice or rats.

They are the only true flying mammal (flying squirrels glide, not fly) and most are insect-eating machines—devouring 20%-50% of their weight in insects every night. They are warm-blooded and have fur or hair, give birth to babies, and nurse their babies. Many pups learn to fly and hunt within 30 days, using echolocation (rapid pulses of sound that bounce off an object) to catch prey on the wing, in the dark of night.

The little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), the most common bat in New York state, has now emerged from hibernation and likely lives in a forest, rock crevice, cave, or building near you. The best time to view them is approximately 30 minutes after sunset, from late spring to early autumn. You may see these bats in your own backyard, a local park, or forested area, especially near water and along trails.