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Greater Mouse Eared-Bat (Myotis myotis)

Diputación de Málaga
Murciélago ratonero grande baja ARL

Greater Mouse Eared-Bat (Myotis myotis)

Reproduction Zeal Topping Hibernation
Animal Life > Mammals


It is a big sized bat (total head-body length 6,5 to 8,4 cm) one of the largest in Europe. It has a long, wide and bulky snout due to the presence of glands on each side. It has a short and dense coat, brown or greyish-dun on the back.  The belly is whitish. It has medium sized ears ending in a tip, with a short pointed tragus (small prominent lobe inside the ear). It has a short tail (4 to 6 cm) not protruding from the uropatagium (wing membrane joining tail and legs). What does stand out is a small spur. The wings are wide but not very long (forearm length 5,6 to 6,6 cm). Females are slightly bigger than males. The males have nasal glands more prominent than the females. It emits echolocation sounds from 30 to 70 kHz frequencies.

Where does it live?

It is a common species, using big sized caves (caves, abysses, tunnels, mines) as refuges. As hunting grounds they use open forest areas: wooded pastures with low-lying herbaceous vegetation (meadows, olive groves). They avoid pine forests, cereal crops and dry scrub areas.  In the North, hibernation refuges usually are in abysses located at a high altitude. However, in the Southern peninsula coastal zones, it seems that the colonies stay by the breeding refuges almost all year round. Winter births have even been confirmed. It lives from sea level to high mountains. There are quotations of this species at more than 2,000 meters above sea level in Sierra Almijara.

How does it live?

This night animal hunts almost at ground level (flights of 30 to 70 cm). They mostly capture beetles, crickets, centipedes and large spiders: non-flying arthropods. Its hunting technique includes locating the prey on the ground and hovering over it to hunt it down. For this reason they are compared with the kestrels or the Montagu's harrier. They share colonies with other bat species. Males stay with females only during the mating period; when births start, they move to other nearby refuges or other parts of the cave, going back to common life in August. Colonies can shelter from several hundred to about one thousand or two thousand specimens. Refuges can be up to 50 km far away from the hunting areas. This species hibernation is little-known in the Iberian Peninsula.

How does it reproduce?

Greater mouse eared-bat usually go into heat in the early days of August, being the sexual activity period able to last until the following spring. Births concentrate from June to July. They are polygamous animals. Males form harems of 3 to 5 females to mate with, creating separate groups within the colony. Each female gives birth to only one offspring, which will last about forty days to learn how to fly and leave the refuge. Females are sexually mature in the following autumn after being born. Males wait until the following year. Their life expectancy is about 4 to 5 years.

Where can we see it in Málaga?

It is a very common and widely extended species all over the province. It is present in the deforested areas of the Ronda mountain ranges and  Sierra de las Nieves, in Sierra Tejeda, the Cortes mountains or in the olive groves of the Antequera and Northeast region, among others. On the Great Path, it can be detected on stages 6 to 9 and 23 to 27.

Curious facts

This bat species was called in Latin the bat with mouse ears (Myo, mouse; otus, oreja). That is why they are called the mouse eared-bats. Recently, hairs of small rodents or insectivores of the shrews type have been found in the excrement of a colony in France. This could indicate that the mouse eared-bats live up to their name by also capturing these small mammals.

Similar species

As they fly and at a glance all bat species are similar. They can only be distinguished by the ultrasound frequency they emit. It is very rare to be able to handle them to observe them. The shape of the tragus, the snout or the size of the ears are the key factor to distinguish them. The greater mouse eared-bat has as a peculiar feature which is its large size, almost as big as a man's hand.

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