Gray Bat (Myotis grisescens)
(Federally listed as Endangered)
The Gray Bat is a small bat with grayish-brown fur and a
slightly wooly appearance. Its body is approximately five inches
in length and its wingspan is 11 to 13 inches. Gray Bats feed on
a variety of small, night-flying insects.
Habitat: The Gray Bat lives in colonies within limestone caves in the Ozark region. They occupy caves throughout the year, but different caves are occupied during the summer and winter months. When foraging for their insect food, Gray Bats hunt over forested habitats and wetlands.
Current and Historic Distribution: The Gray Bat is a migratory species that is found in Oklahoma only during the late spring and summer months (April through September). In the summer, nine colonies of Gray Bats are known to occupy caves in forested habitats in Ottawa, Delaware, Cherokee and Adair counties. In the fall, these bats migrate to the east and hibernate within caves in Arkansas and Kentucky. The current and historic ranges for the Gray Bat are similar in Oklahoma.
Reasons for Decline: Nationwide, the Gray Bat population numbers approximately one million animals, but the species is listed as endangered because 90% of the population is concentrated in only eight caves during the hibernation period. Additionally, the Gray Bat has experienced population declines over the past century as a result of habitat loss (the clearing of forests along streams and lakes), past pesticide use, and human disturbance of their breeding and hibernating caves. Their behavior of congregating in only a few caves further makes them vulnerable to these factors.