Myotis septentrionalis
(Trouessart, 1897)

mI-O-tis sep-ten-trE-an-al-is

Kansas Species in Need of Conservation (SINC)

An adlut Northern Myotis.
An adlut Northern Myotis.

FEDERALLY THREATENED - Myotis septentrionalis is a medium sized Myotis with long, rounded ears that extend beyond the tip of the nose when laid forward and a long, pinted tragus. The pelage typically is dull brown dorsally and pale brown ventrally. The wing membrane extends to the base of the toes, and the calcar is slightly keeled. The dental formula is incisors 2/3, canine 1/1, premolars 3/3, molars 3/3.
The bat with which the northern myotis is most apt to be confused is the little brown myotis. The northern myotis differs from that species by its longer ears, longer and more sharply pointed tragus, and less glossy appearing pelage.

It is historically known from two main areas of Kansas: north-central Kansas along and north of the Saline River Valley, and north-eastern Kansas in the vicinity of the Blue River.  North-central Kansas is at the western periphery of this species' range at this latitude and likely was never abundant here because of the lack of suitable caves in which to hibernate. A large population of this species hibernated historically in the Blue Rapids Gypsum Mine in Marshall County. Most records of the northern myotis from this region were banded individuals that originated in this mine. Recent communications with land owners suggest that this mine has long-since collapsed and there are no surface entrances remaining. Consequently, there are no recent specimens from this area and we hypothesize that this population has been extirpated. However, recent surveys have indicated that the species does still inhabit the Saline River Valley of north-central Kansas.

Fossils of this species were found in a Holocene cave deposit in Kentucky, but are not known from Kansas. This species occurs in the northeastern quarter of the United States and southern Canada west to Alberta and eastern British Columbia. Its distribution in Kansas is not well known and may be expanding. The species was not known to occur in Kansas until 1951, when individuals of the species were found hibernating in the gypsum mines in Marshall county. Before 1972, the species was known only from the vicinity of those mines. The status of the mines as a hibernaculum for the species is uncertain (see the account of Myotis lucifugus). In central Kansas, the northern myotis was regarded as a migrant that flew over the state in spring and autumn but did not breed here. Pregnant bats finally were discovered in north-central Kansas in the 1990s, and the species still occurs in riparian woodland in Phillips, Rooks, Graham, Osborne, Ellis, and Russell counties. The species conceivably will be found in other counties where riparian woodland provides opportunities for roosting. If the mines in Marshall County no longer serve as a hibernaculum, this population might be extirpated from the state. It is unclear where this species occurs in Kansas, and overwintering sites are unknown.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details.
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 120 Total Records 
  • 115 Museum Vouchers 
  • 5 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Ellis (38); Graham (1); Jewell (1); Leavenworth (1); Marshall (62); Osborne (3); Phillips (1); Rooks (6); Russell (4); Washington (3);

Natural History:

The natural history of this species is poorly known, especially in Kansas.  During winter, the northern myotis is known to hibernate in draftless caves (both natural and man-made) and mines where temperatures are low but above freezing and humidity is high. It has recently been known to use cracks and crevices in limestone outcrops as winter refugia. In summer, this bat occupies buildings or roosts under the loose bark of trees, in hollow trees, and in shallow crevices in rocky cliff faces. In winter, Northern Long-eared Bats typically hibernate in caves or mines, but no true hibernacula have been found in Kansas other than the Marshall County mines. Nursery roosts typically are behind loose tree bark and much less commonly in old buildings. These bats are gleaners, which means they feed on insects picked off the ground or from vegetation. The bats presumably use their superior hearing to locate insects from the sounds they make by moving or fluttering their wings. Insects are carried to a perch and eaten there.
Adults may attain the following dimensions: total length 86-99 mm, length of tail 36-43 mm, length of hind foot 8-10 mm, length of ear 16-18 mm, weight 5.2-8.4 g. No information is available on longevity in this species.
Myotis septentrionalis emerges shortly after sunset to hunt. Hunting occurs over small ponds, forest clearings and forest edges at a height of 1 to 3 meters. Hunting is coupled with periodic rests (night roosting), followed by a second peak of hunting just before dawn. The diet consists of insects of the orders Homoptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Neuroptera, and Diptera plus spiders. In general, these bats consume a variety of smaller night-flying insects, but they may sometimes glean sitting prey as well.
There are no published accounts of predation on northern myotis. A dead northern myotis was found adjacent to a road in Hays, Kansas, presumably the result of a collision with an automobile.
Copulation occurs before the beginning of hibernation. Females store sperm in their uteri during hibernation, and ovulation does not occur until the bats emerge from hibernation in the spring. Actual gestation probably lasts about 50 to 60 days. In Kansas, a single young is born in June and the young are volant by the end of July.

Occurrence Activity:
Throughout the northeastern United States, hibernating colonies of this bat (and at least one other species) are being decimated by a mysterious ailment that has been termed "white-nose syndrome" because of a white fungus that grows on the faces (and elsewhere) of hibernating bats. Tens of thousands of these bats are dying as a result. No one yet knows the cause of this mortality.
Populations of the little brown myotis that occur in Kansas are referrable to the subspecies Myotis lucifugus lucifugus.The United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed the Northern Long-eared Bat as endangered in October 2013. During review of the threats, it was determined the Northern Long-eared Bat met the Endangered Species Acts definition of threatened. Under the Act, a threatened species is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future, while an endangered species is currently in danger of becoming extinct. The listing becomes effective on May 4, 2015, 30 days after publication of the final listing determination in the Federal Register.
This bat currently is experiencing declines of unprecedented proportions throughout much of its range, mainly because of White-nose Syndrome (WNS). This bat is known to overwinter almost exclusively in caves and mines throughout its range in the eastern United States where WNS is rampant. Because of the paucity of caves and mines, Kansas populations face little threat of contracting WNS and this region could potentially serve as a refuge for the species.
The taxonomic history of this species is complex. Bats now known as Myotis septentrionalis originally were named Vespertilio subulatus keenii. Later, it was discovered that Myotis subulatus and Myotis keenii were separate species, so these bats went by the name Myotis keenii. Myotis keenii subsequently was shown to consist of two species, the more widespread of the two being Myotis septentrionalis. The species is monotypic in that there are no subspecies.

1939 Sprague, J. M. Mammal distributional records for Kansas. J. Mamm., 20:102-103. ():
1952 Cockrum, E. L. Mammals of Kansas. Univ. Kansas Publ. Mus. Nat. Hist. 7:1-303. ():
1955 Hall, E. R Handbook of mammals of Kansas Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist. Misc. Publ. 7():1-303
1956 Van Gelder, R. G. Echo-location failure in migratory bats. Trans. Kansas Acad. Sci., 59:220-222. ():
1966 Nickel, P. A., and M. F. Hansen Helminths of bats collected in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma, American Midl. Nat., 78:481-486. ():
1967 Jones, J. K. Jr., E. D. Fleharty, and P. B. Dunnigan The distributional status of bats in Kansas. Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist. Misc. Publ., 46:1-33. ():
1975 Kunz, T. H. Observations on the winter ecology of the batfly Trichobius corynorhini. J. Med. Ent., 12:631-636. ():
1979 Fitch, J. H., and K. A. Shump, Jr. Myotis keenii Mammalian Species 121():1-3
1979 Jones, J. K., Jr., D. C. Carter, and H. H. Genoways Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 1979. Occas. Papers Mus. Texas Tech. Univ., 62:1-17. ():
1981 Hall, E. R. John Wiley and Sons, New York. 1-600pp.
1983 Jones, J. K., Jr., D. M. Armstrong, R. S. Hoffmann, and C. Jones University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE. 1-379pp.
1985 Jones, J. K., Jr., D. M. Armstrong, and J. R. Choate University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 1-371pp.
1996 Sparks, D.W. and J.R. Choate New distributional records for mammals in Kansas Prairie Naturalist 27(4):185-192
1999 Wilson, D. E., and S. Ruff Smithsonian Institution Press, Washsington, DC. 1-750pp.
2000 Sparks, D. W., and J. R. Choate Distribution, natural history, conservation status, and biogeography of bats in Kansas Pages 173-228 in Reflections of a Naturalist: Papers Honoring Professor Eugene D. Fleharty Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS. pp.
2000 Sparks, D. W., K. J. Roberts, and C. Jones Vertebrate predators on bats in North America north of Mexico. Pages 229-241 in Reflections of a naturalist: Papers honoring Professor Eugene D. Fleharty. Fort Hays Studies, Special Issue 1, Hays, Kansas. pp.
2003 Cryan, P. M. Seasonal distribution of migratory tree bats (Lasiurus and Lasionycteris) in North America ():
2005 Davis, C. R., F. B. Stangl, Jr., and L. W. Robbins Mammals of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: a 60-year followup to Brumwell (1951) Prairie Naturalist 37(2):101-116
2007 Brack, V., Jr., L. W. Robbins, and C. R. Davis Bats of Fort Leavenworth Military Reservation and nearby areas of eastern Kansas and western Missouri Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 110(1/2):73-82
2008 Timm, R. M., G. R. Pisani, J. R. Choate, N. A. Slade, G. A. Kaufman, and D. W. Kaufman, . pp.
2011 Sparks, D. W., C. J. Schmidt, and J. R. Choate Center for Bat Research and Conservation, Indiana State University. pp.
2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the Eastern Small-Footed Bat and the Northern Long-Eared Bat as Endangered or Threatened Species; Listing the Northern Long-Eared Bat as an Endangered Species. Federal Register 78(191):
Account Last Updated:
2/17/2018 1:12:18 PM

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