Eastern Red Bat

I usually avoid putting spoilers into my post titles, but since I post so infrequently these days I thought I'd get right to the point. A couple of weeks ago I was doing some winter damage assessment on the bamboos, and was taking a close look at this completely fried Phyllostachys dulcis:

Not a pretty sight with all of that brown, but I wanted to know if any of those culms were going to leaf out again.


So I was taking a close look...

Yes, new growth!

...when I turned my head and got a little shock -- why was a dead mouse stuck in that branch?!

After another few seconds I realized this was of course not a dead mouse, but was a tiny bat!

At the time I was astounded, as I didn't know that any bats roosted out in the open like this, but I took lots of photos:

Later research informed me that this was an Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis), and that they do indeed roost in trees. As the Bat Conservation International website tells me:
Eastern red bats are North America's most abundant “tree bats.” They are found wherever there are trees east of the Rocky Mountains from Canada to as far south as central Florida. Eastern red bats roost right out in the foliage of deciduous or sometimes evergreen trees. Despite their bright red color, these bats are actually rather cryptic, looking like dead leaves or pine cones. They are perfectly camouflaged as they hang curled-up in their furry tail membranes, suspended from a single foot, twisting slightly in the breeze.

It was quite a windy day so the bamboo was moving back and forth substantially, but this one never moved as far as I could tell.

From a little distance you wouldn't even notice it there:

(It's in the exact center of that image)

The next day (Friday), it was back!

I say "back" and not "still there", as it clearly had shifted position. It was still on the same branch, but was now holding onto a leaf and not the branch itself. 

I should point out that this bat is about 2.5", maybe 3" (60-75mm) long -- it was too high up there to put anything next to it for scale in these photos.

It was back again the next day (Saturday) too!

That day it seemed to be in exactly the same position as the day before, as if it hadn't left during the night. 

The next day (Sunday) it was gone. I don't know if the leaf it was clinging to finally fell off, or if the bat just got tired of swaying so much while trying to sleep and found a quieter spot, but I haven't seen it again since. 

I've lived in this house for more than 20 years, and although I've seen bats every summer, I never knew that they would roost out in the open in a tree! I just thought that they needed hollow trees or caves or attics or some other type of shelter.

Good thing I never wasted time building a bat house! ;)

More info here: Eastern Red Bat
Missouri has 14 species of bats! List and more info here.


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danger garden  – (April 23, 2019 at 10:12 AM)  

Well that's pretty cool! I have to say he was quite well camouflaged with the golden bamboo all around.

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