Grey Long-eared bats (Plecotus austriacus) are medium sized bats.
The ears are nearly as long as the body but are not always obvious; when
at rest they curl their ears back like rams horns, or tuck them away completely
under their wings leaving only the pointed inner lobe of the ear (the tragus)
visible. It can be very difficult to distinguish the rare Grey Long-eared
from the more common Brown Long-eared
bat (Plecotus auritus).
The Grey Long-eared bat is a southern European species which has only
been found in southern England.
flight & ultrasound
This species emerges in darkness and is a very skilful flier like the
Brown Long-eared. Long-eared bats are
woodland animals and often hunt by picking insects off foliage rather
than catching them in flight. As you might expect, their huge ears are
related to this hunting method. The echolocation pulses produced by these
bats are very quiet and this is thought to help with finding insects on
foliage as well as not warning moths of the presence of the bat. Sometimes
they do not bother to use echolocation but can listen for the tiny sounds
that a moth's wings make as the moth warms up, as its ears are specially
attuned to these noises.
As with other species, Long-eared bat breeding colonies gather in roosts
during April and May. Generally numbers are quite low, averaging about
20 adults but colonies of up to 100 are known. Males are often found in
these roosts and are obviously tolerated by the females. The single baby
is born in June and is able to fly by late July.
Long-eared bats are most often found in older houses with large open
roof voids which allow the bats to fly around in the roof. Bats can be
found in these roosts throughout the year, though numbers are higher in
the summer. Long-eared bats generally form small and quiet colonies of
about 20 animals and often the first a householder knows about them is
when a visit to the loft reveals a cluster of tiny faces peering down
from a corner of the rafters. As well as using the roof void, the bats
will tuck themselves away behind rafters, so they may not always be seen.
A favourite roosting place is on or above the ridge beam of the roof and
a line of droppings beneath is often a good indication of their presence.
In winter Long-eared bats may still be found in roofs in small numbers
and some are seen in underground sites such as caves, mines and cellars.
|Head and Body Length
||41 - 58 mm
||37 - 45 mm
||255 - 300 mm
||7 - 14 g
||Generally larger and greyer than Brown
Long-eared but can be confused with juveniles of the latter. Face
is often darker with a blackish mask.
Young: usually 1 born mid to end of June.
||10 - 30 females.
|Habitat and Food
||Buildings, sometimes visible on roof beams or hidden
away in cracks and cavities.
||Caves, cellars, mines.
||Moths, diptera, small beetles.