Myotis velifer
(J. A. Allen, 1890)

mI-O-tis vel-i-fer

Image © by Greg Sievert.
Image © by Greg Sievert.
Image © by Greg Sievert.

Myotis velifer is the largest myotis in Kansas. The pelage is pale brown to nearly black, and it has a "woolly" appearance. The species has long forearms, a "stubby" nose, and short ears.
The Cave Myotis is not apt to be confused with any other species in Kansas except other members of the genus Myotis. The Cave Myotis is larger than any of those species. Its pelage is duller than the vibrant pelage of Myotis lucifugus and even Myotis septentrionalis, and it is geographically separated from Myotis grisescens

The range of this species is from Honduras north to the California-Nevada border and east to Kansas. In Kansas, the cave myotis formerly was restricted to the south-central region, where it roosted in the abundant caves in the Red Hills.  Human settlement in the region resulted in development of another kind of roost site, namely old buildings (especially barns). These structures tend to be warmer than caves in the summer, therefore they are conducive to faster development of newborn young. Pregnant females take advantage of this roosting resource and have been spreading northward out of the Red Hills. Thirty years ago the species was known from only 9 counties, whereas now it can be found in 13. Males remain in caves during summer, and they are joined by females for hibernation in winter.
Pleistocene fossils of the cave myotis have been found in caves in Texas and Arizona.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details.
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 946 Total Records 
  • 914 Museum Vouchers 
  • 32 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Barber (604); Clark (41); Comanche (178); Edwards (3); Ford (4); Grant (1); Harper (12); Kingman (1); Kiowa (55); Meade (19); Pawnee (9); Pratt (5); Rush (1);

Natural History:
In Kansas, cave myotis emerge from hibernation in April. Females soon move to their maternity roosts, whereas males scatter around the region in bachelor groups. In summer, this species leaves the roost to forage for food well before dark. It has been reported that "scouts" test the light conditions for the colony in a cave before the entire colony departs. Foraging occurs primarily over water with two peaks of activity, one early in the evening and the other just before dawn. Kansas populations of this species are not migratory, and the bats remain in the same general vicinity year-round. Winter colonies begin to form in mid-October, and hibernation begins soon thereafter.
Adults may attain the following dimensions: total length 97-115 mm; length of hind foot 10-13 mm; length of ear 15-17 mm; weight 9-17 g. Average longevity is about 6 years with some individuals living much longer.
Cave myotis are opportunistic feeders. In Kansas, the orders of insects most commonly eaten are Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Diptera, and Hemiptera.
Causes of mortality are better known for this species than for any other in Kansas. Documented predators on cave myotis include a variety of snakes and raptors plus ringtails, skunks, raccoons, and foxes. Even though the caves in which this bat hibernates are small, well hidden, and in many cases difficult to enter, disruption of hibernating bats by human intruders may be an important cause of mortality. Destruction of old buildings (either by wind or well-meaning humans) also may be a cause of mortality if those structures support maternity colonies of this species. There is evidence that these bats concentrate pesticides in their tissues. Also, a few of these bats have tested positive for rabies.
Copulation takes place in October, but fertilization of ovulated eggs in the females reaches its height in April when the breeding females leave hibernation. After a gestation period of 60-70 days, females produce a single young in late June or early July which is maintained in a nursing cluster. At three weeks the young fly about the cave for short distances, and after six weeks they are weaned. By late August and early September the young are approximately the same size as adults.

Occurrence Activity:
The taxonomy of the cave myotis in Kansas is somewhat confusing. The subspecific name that formerly was applied to these bats was Myotis velifer incautus. Research demonstrated that bats of this species from the central plains differed from bats in other regions, so our bats were renamed Myotis velifer grandis. Most of the current literature says that is the correct name. However, there is an older available name for the Kansas population and, in accordance with the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, the older name has priority. Therefore, the correct name for the population of cave myotis in Kansas is Myotis velifer magnamolaris

1934 Hibbard, C. W. Notes on some cave bats in Kansas. Trans. Kansas Acad. Sci., 37:235-238. ():
1952 Cockrum, E. L. Mammals of Kansas. Univ. Kansas Publ. Mus. Nat. Hist. 7:1-303. ():
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. ():
1973 Kunz, T. H. Population studies of the cave bat (Myotis velifer): reproduction, growth, and development. Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist. Occas. Papers, 15:1-43. ():
1974 Kunz, T. H. Differential use of foraging space by a refuging species (Myotis velifer). Yrbk. American Phil. Soc., 1973:623-625. ():
1974 Kunz, T. H. Feeding ecology of a temperate insectivorous bat (Myotis velifer). Ecology, 55:693-711. ():
1981 Fitch, J. H., K. A. Shump, Jr., and A. U. Shump Myotis velifer Mammalian Species 149():1-5
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.
2008 Timm, R. M., G. R. Pisani, J. R. Choate, N. A. Slade, G. A. Kaufman, and D. W. Kaufman, . pp.
Account Last Updated:
8/21/2018 7:55:31 PM

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