Nyctalus noctulanoctule

Geographic Range

Most widely distributed vespertilionid bat, common throughout Europe, most of temperate Asia to Japan and Burma, Oman, Viet Nam, Taiwan, Algeria, and possibly Mozambique and Singapore.

Habitat

Noctule bats are generally reside in forests but may forage in open areas and dwell in or near human habitation. Roosting sites include hollow trees, buildings, and caves.

Physical Description

Colors range from golden to dark brown above and usually pale brown below. Head and body length is 50-100 mm, tail length is 35-65 mm, and forearm length is 40-70 mm.

  • Range mass
    16 to 49 g
    0.56 to 1.73 oz
  • Average mass
    27 g
    0.95 oz

Reproduction

One litter 1, 2, or (rarely) 3 young are born per female between May and June, although breeding occurs in both September and the spring. Two young are often born in areas where winters are more severe. Females have been found to mate in captivity when 3 months old; gestation is 50-70 days. Males mate during their second autumn, when 15 months old.

  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 3
  • Average number of offspring
    1.5
    AnAge
  • Range gestation period
    70 to 73 days
  • Average weaning age
    60 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    90 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    455 days
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Nyctalus noctula flies early, with quick turns. Its voice is described as sharp, stacatto cries or prolonged trilling similar to the song of a bird. Pregnant females roost in trees and buildings in groups of as many as 400 bats until after their young are weaned. During this time, males leave and become solitary. In early autumn, males congregate and set up territories in hollow trees. Females then aggregate at these sites and enter transient harems for mating.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Noctule bats generally have two main feeding flights of one or two hours duration, one in the early evening and the other ending just before sunrise. These bats eat winged ants, moths, and other insects, but are particulary fond of beetles. One instance of Nyctalus noctula capturing and eating house mice (Mus musculus) was observed.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Noctule bats have been infected in the laboratory with the plague-causing bacteria Yersinia (=Pasteurella), which points to some pathological implications for humans. They may also be a source of transmission for Borrelia recurrentis (a bacteria causing relapsing fever in humans), when humans are parasitized by ticks and body lice that have previously parasitized the bats.

Conservation Status

Nyctalus noctula numbers are declining in Europe due to the elimination of their natural habitat, roosting trees, and insect prey.

Other Comments

Nyctalus noctula is migratory, traveling south-southwest to hibernate in caves and traveling a range of 80-750 km north-northeast to summer roosting sites. Not all individuals of a population migrate; some may overwinter in a hollow log or woodpecker hole. The longest journey recorded for Nyctalus noctula is 2,347 km.

Contributors

Liz Ballenger (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5? N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Hill, J.E. and J.D. Smith. 1984. Bats: a natural history. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX.

Nowak, R.M. 1994. Walker's bats of the world. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.