Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin

Indiana Bat

Myotis sodalis


The Indiana bat is very small, weighing about 7 g and have a wingspan of 24-28 cm. This species is dark gray or brown in color with soft fur. The Indiana bat can be distinguished from other species by a small projection of cartilage from the foot called the “keeled calcar”, which adds stability to the wing. Female bats are typically a little larger in size when compared to males.


This species of bat is only found in North America. The Indiana bat’s range includes Iowa, Missouri, and northern Arkansas east to western Virginia and North Carolina, and north into New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. These bats roost from sea level to an elevation of 1,746 m. During the winter months this species takes refuge in limestone caves that have temperatures that range from 3.0-7.2 degrees Celsius. Roosting in the summer months takes place under the bark of large trees (such as bitternut hickory, oak, elm, pine, American sycamore, and eastern cottonwood), under bridges and in some buildings.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

This insectivorous bat species is nocturnal, hunting and consuming insects at night. Indiana bats hunt insects at night using echolocation, a way of maneuvering around using sound. The insects consumed by this species include; beetles, flies, bees, wasps, butterflies, moths and caddis flies. Female Indiana bats that are lactating eat more beetles and caddis flies than non-lactating females.


The Indiana bat is a polygynous mammal, which means the males will mate with multiple females. Mating occurs in October or November during the “fall swarming” period. During this period, males wait at the entrance of the winter “hibernacula” (place to hibernate) to mate with females who have arrived to hibernate. Females store the male’s sperm over winter, delaying fertilization to ensure young to be born in the summer. 68 days after fertilization, the female Indiana bat gives birth to one pup (although twins are possible) between late June and early July. Females form maternity colonies, nursing their young through lactation. The pup is weaned after about 31 days and able to fly by mid-July. After 2-3 months the pup is completely independent of its mother.

Months and Times of Activity

Indiana bats hibernate during the winter in limestone caves of northern regions, although some hibernate beneath the bark of dead trees. After hibernation, these bats migrate up to thousands of kilometers to their summer roosting sites. Foraging areas are larger in the summer months.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

•    Bats are not blind, they have well developed eyesight

.•    Bats are an environmentally friendly method of insect control. Instead of spraying toxic bug spray, healthy bat populations can help to control mosquito and other insect populations.

•    The Indiana bat is considered a federally endangered species on the IUCN Red List. This is due to the dramatic loss of habitat. Another cause of population decline is the threat of a fungal disease called “white-nose syndrome”, a fungus geomyces destructans grows in cold, humid conditions which is typical of bats in hibernation.  This fungus causes bats to arouse from hibernation, which is a great metabolic cost because the bat wakes to increase their metabolism and immune system to fight the fungus. The extra energy expenditure causes the bat to have insufficient fat stores to make it through the winter

.•    To read legends featuring this species go to;

•    Children’s  book featuring this animal: Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies


Burgess, A. 2012. "Myotis sodalis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2014 at