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  • Writer's pictureChloe Robinson

Species Spotlight: Northern Myotis

To celebrate the run up to Halloween, we want to shine the moonlight on each of the eight bat species of Ontario. In this series of blog posts, we will be highlighting the key info for each species and will provide some exclusive recordings we have collected this year in our Batacea Guelph Bat Watch project.

©Batacea 2020 (based on photo by Brock Fenton)

In this post, we will be spotlighting the northern myotis (scientific name: Myotis septentrionalis).

Species Description

The northern myotis (or northern long-eared bat) is similar in appearance to the little brown bat, however this species has very long ears with a thin tragus that is pointy at the tip. The underside of the northern myotis is also paler and they have longer wings than a majority of other Myotis bats.

Range and Ecology

This species is forest-dependent and 40% of its global distribution is in Canada. Northern myotis are typically found within boreal forests and are solitary, roosting in buildings, under loose bark, and in tree cavities. During winter months, this species hibernates in caves and mines.

Mating takes place before hibernation and females give birth to a single pup in June or July.

Northern myotis tend to forage in the understory of forested areas, primarily feeding on moths, flies, leafhoppers, caddisflies, and beetles. This species is also known to glean prey, where by they capture motionless insects from trees or vegetation.

Conservation Status

This species is currently classified as 'Near Threatened' according to the IUCN Red List, with decreasing long-term population trends. White-nose syndrome has been the major cause of population declines in North American since 2006. Northern myotis are similar in terms of morphology and life history to little brown bats, therefore it is difficult to determine the actual impact of white-nose syndrome on each species independently.

Acoustic Recordings

The northern myotis is the only species we did not detect during our 2020 surveys. Their spectrograms are very similar to those of the little brown bat, and therefore it can be difficult to distinguish to the two species.

Their calls produce steep spectrograms, starting at ~110 kHz and ending ~45kHz, lasting for <4.5 ms.

More Information

For more information on northern myotis, visit Ontario Species at Risk, Neighbourhood Bat Watch or US Fish and Wildlife Service websites.

To explore more eastern red bat spectrograms, check out the iNaturalist Bat Spectrogram project.

Read our eastern red bat, little brown bat, silver-haired bat, big brown bat and hoary bat species spotlights on the Batacea blog page and keep an eye out for our next species spotlight on the 26th October.

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