As the only mammals that are capable of true flight, bats are undoubtedly some of the most fascinating and unique animals in the world. Bats can vary widely in size, from tiny ones which are barely an inch long to massive flying foxes with a wingspan of several feet. Canada is home to 18 species of bats and, unsurprisingly, they are a variety of sizes. So, let’s discover the largest bats in Canada, ranked by wingspan!
10. Little Brown Bat — 10.6 inches
The first bat we’re going to talk about is the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) which has an 8.3 to 10.6 inch wingspan. These bats have long hair which extends from their feet to their claws. They have particularly glossy fur which can vary in color, being any shade of brown to black. Little brown bats live in a range of habitats, including forests and urban areas. During the summer they can often be found roosting in buildings or tree hollows. However, during the winter they typically hibernate in caves. Little brown bats are widespread across Canada, although their population is declining and they are now classed as being endangered.
9. Long-Eared Bat — 11.4 inches
Long-eared bats (Myotis evotis) are named for their particularly large ears which give them a distinctive appearance. They are fairly large bats, with a wingspan of 9.4 to 11.4 inches. They have pale, straw-colored fur, although their ears, tail, and wing membranes are black. Long-eared bats live in Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and Saskatchewan where they typically inhabit forests. They roost in trees, rocky crevices, and caves and tend to live in small groups.
8. Fringed Myotis — 11.8 inches
Occurring only in British Columbia, the fringed myotis (Myotis thysanodes) lives in grasslands and forests. Fringed bats live in colonies and typically roost in caves and buildings during the summer, although little is known about where they roost during the winter. They have a wingspan of 9.8 to 11.8 inches and are light brown on their back with a white-colored underside. Fringed bats get their name from the short fringe of fur which lines their tail membrane. Fringed bats are most active in the two hours immediately after sunset and prey mainly on beetles and moths.
7. Long-Legged Bat — 12 inches
The next bat on our list is the long-legged bat (Myotis volans) which has a wingspan of between 10 and 12 inches. They are one of the largest species of mouse-eared bats and are characterized by their long legs and small feet. They have small, rounded ears that barely reach their nostrils when they are pushed forward. Long-legged bats are reddish to chocolate brown and have fur on the underside of their wings which extends to their knees and elbows. Long-legged bats can be found in Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and Yukon in mountainous or forested regions. They typically roost underneath the bark of trees and in rocky crevices or caves.
6. Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat — 12.2 inches
The next bat in Canada is Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) which is a species of special concern. They occur only in British Columbia and can be found in forests and arid grasslands. Townsend’s big-eared bats have extremely long ears which can be as much as half of the length of their body. They also have a noticeable bump on each side of their snout. Townsend’s big-eared bats are light brown to grey and have a wingspan which ranges between nine and 12.2 inches. They prey predominantly on moths, although they may also eat beetles and flies.
5. Silver-Haired Bat — 12.2 inches
One of the most solitary bats in Canada is the silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) which roosts alone or occasionally in small groups. These bats are named for their distinctive coloration which consists of black hairs with white or silver tips. They have a wingspan of between 10.2 and 12.2 inches. Silver-haired bats are fairly widespread in Canada and can be found in forests which are close to a water source. They typically roost in tree cavities, but in urban areas they may roost underneath things such as patio umbrellas. Silver-haired bats do not usually overwinter in Canada, and typically migrate to the US in the fall. They mainly prey on soft-bodied insects and will often forage while flying close to the ground.
4. Red Bat — 13 inches
Next, we have the red bat (Lasiurus borealis) which has a wingspan of between 11.4 and 13 inches. Red bats have a distinctive reddish-orange appearance with white patches on their shoulders and underneath their chin. They also have long, pointed wings and round ears. Red bats are widespread across eastern Canada. They live in mixed and coniferous forests and typically roost near the top of the trees. Red bats mainly eat beetles and moths and can often be observed flying near water or fields when hunting. They are a migratory species and in the fall they fly to the central and southern region of the US.
3. Big Brown Bat — 15.4 inches
The third-largest bat in Canada is the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) which has a wingspan of 12.6 to 15.4 inches. Big brown bats have dark brown backs with a paler underside and a black face, tail, ears, and wings. They live in a variety of habitats, including forests and urban areas. They also commonly inhabit buildings during the winter. Big brown bats have a varied diet and frequently prey on many species of agricultural pests — such as beetles, leafhoppers, and bugs. Due to their large size, these bats have few predators, with birds of prey being their biggest threat.
2. Pallid Bat — 16 inches
Pallid bats (Antrozous pallidus) have a 15 to 16 inch wingspan. They are pale, yellowish-brown with a white underside and have large ears which extend beyond the nostrils when pushed forwards. Pallid bats are a threatened species in Canada and only live in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. They typically inhabit grasslands and ponderosa pine forests, with ponderosa pines being their preferred roosting spots. Pallid bats mainly prey on arthropods and can consume up to half of their own bodyweight every day. Pallid bats typically give birth to one or two pups in June following a 67-day gestation period.
1. Hoary Bat — 16.5 inches
The largest bat in Canada is the hoary bat which has a wingspan of 13 to 16.5 inches. Hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus) inhabit both coniferous and deciduous forests and roost close to the top of the trees. They prey on a variety of moths, beetles, and mosquitoes and often hunt close to water. Hoary bats have a distinctive appearance as they have brown fur with white tips. They also have a yellowish-brown collar underneath their chin and ears which are bordered with black. Hoary bats are mainly preyed on by hawks, owls, and kestrels.
Summary of the 10 Largest Bats in Canada
|#3||Big Brown Bat||12.6-15.4|
|#6||Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat||9-12.2|
|#10||Little Brown Bat||8.3-10.6|
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