The discovery of red bats (Lasiurus borealis) flying above the Iron Stream in Guilford on Biodiversity Day was an exciting find for the mammalogist team from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP team was encouraged by the presence of this species because red bats are listed as a “species of special concern” in the state. DEP wildlife technician, Geoffrey Krukar, explained that a species of special concern is “any native plant species or any native nonharvested wildlife species, documented by scientific research and inventory, to have a naturally restricted range or habitat in the state, to be at a low population level, to be in such high demand by man that its unregulated taking would be detrimental to the conservation of its population, or has been extirpated from the state. Red bats in Connecticut are faced with a loss of habitat (they are a tree roosting species).”

The red bat ranges through southern parts of Canada, most of the United States and Latin America. Those in the northern part of their range will migrate to warmer climates for the winter.

Anita Gould, CC BY-NC 2.0

This strikingly beautiful animal has bright orange fur with white shoulder patches. A solitary creature, the red bat will roost among the leaves of a deciduous tree by day, hanging by one foot. Looking for all the world like a curled up dead leaf, the red bat remains hidden in plain sight. Taking flight in early evening, it will hunt along forest edges for flying insects, such as moths, beetles, leafhoppers and flies.

While most bats rear a single young per year, the red bat female commonly has three or four! They will hang from the same perch as the mother, clinging to her with their wings. She will leave them there at night while she flies off to feed. Within four weeks the young are flying and by the sixth week they are weaned.

The DEP team used mist nets to capture several red bats on the evening of September 7 in Guilford. Based on the time of year, they believe that these bats may have been migrants passing through the area. Further studies at other times of year will help to determine whether we have a breeding population of red bats in Guilford.

Cindi Kobak