Bat Species in Massachusetts

There are nine species of bats that live in Massachusetts. The two most common are the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus). Here are profiles of a few select species.

Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis)

Eastern red bat © NPS
Eastern red bat © NPS

Usually solitary, it roosts in trees, hanging from one foot and swaying slightly to resemble a dead leaf. The female gives birth to an average of three young in early summer. In autumn the eastern red bat migrates along the east coast using the same routes as many birds. Little is known about its migratory destinations.


Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)

Hoary bat © William Leonard, NPS
Hoary bat © William Leonard, NPS

Our largest bat, this seldom-seen creature has striking fur with a frosted appearance. During the day it roosts alone in the dense foliage of a tree, preferably a conifer. It generally avoids human structures. The hoary bat has the most extensive range of any North American bat: it’s found from Canada to Chile and Argentina. It is also partially migratory. Northern populations move to southern states where it is warm enough to roost in the open.


Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus)

Little brown bat © NPS
Little brown bat © NPS

This species was once the most common bat in Massachusetts, but the white-nose syndrome epidemic in its wintering caves has dramatically reduced its population. Females form large nursery colonies in the late spring and summer and may roost in buildings. For the first few days of its life, the young bat clings to its mother while she hunts for food at night.


Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)

Big brown bat © USFWS
Big brown bat © USFWS

In summer, this glossy brown bat lives in buildings and trees. In the winter it may hibernate in a cave, but it typically inhabits a dry area such as an attic where the white-nose fungus cannot survive. This abundant species hunts for insects in a wide variety of habitats.


Tricolored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus)

Tricolored bat © USFWS
Tricolored bat © USFWS

Formerly called the eastern pipistrelle, this animal is named for its fur color: each hair is dark at the base, light in the center, and dark at the tip. It is one of the first bats to emerge and begin flying at night. This bat hibernates in caves and mines, where the white-nose syndrome epidemic has resulted in its status as being endangered in the state.