Ozark Big-eared Bat
(Corynorhinus (= Plecotus) townsendii ingens)
(Federally listed as Endangered)
Description: This is a medium-sized bat with a dark brown fur,
large ears (about four times the length found on most Oklahoma
bats), and two prominent lumps on the snout. It feeds on
night-flying insects; moths make up an especially large part of
Habitat: Ozark Big-eared Bats live in limestone caves in forested portions of the Ozark Highlands. They typically occupy portions of caves that are near the entrance. Ozark Big-eared Bats are not migratory, but they may move to different caves between seasons. When foraging for insects, they fly above the tree canopy and in gaps and clearings within the forest. They are usually associated with oak and oak-hickory forest types.
Current and Historic Distribution: In Oklahoma, most of the Ozark Big-eared Bat population occurs in Adair County and adjacent parts of Cherokee and Delaware counties. They also occur across the state line in northwestern Arkansas. Historically, Ozark Big-eared Bats occurred in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri and were more widespread in Arkansas. The current population is believed to be less than 4,000 bats, and about half of these occur in Oklahoma. During the summer, males are usually solitary, while females live in small colonies. During the fall and winter, both sexes form hibernating colonies together. This is one of the rarest mammals in Oklahoma.
Reasons for Decline: Human visitation and vandalism of the caves that the bats occupy is thought to be the primary reason for their decline. Because the bats occupy areas near the entrances of caves, they are more easily disturbed than bats occurring deeper in caves. If bats are disturbed frequently during hibernation, it can cause them to increase their metabolism and burn more of their stored body fat that is needed to sustain them through the winter.