Species At Risk

Northern Long-eared Bat

(Myotis septentrionalis)


Northern Long-eared Bat


Northern long-eared bats have dull yellow-brown fur with pale grey bellies. They are typically about eight centimetres long, with a wingspan of about 25 centimetres. Northern long-eared bats usually weigh between six and nine grams – a little more than a Canadian loonie or toonie.

As their name suggests, they have long (rounded) ears. Northern long-earned bats look similar to the more common little brown bats. They can be distinguished by the fleshy projection that covers the entrance to the ear, which is long and thin, with a pointed tip.

Female northern long-eared bats usually give birth to one young, which is able to fly and obtain its own food when just a month old.


The northern long-eared bat is found throughout forested areas in southern Ontario, to the north shore of Lake Superior and occasionally as far north as Moosonee, and west to Lake Nipigon.

This bat is found in all Canadian provinces as well as the Yukon and Northwest Territories.


Northern long-eared bats are associated with boreal forests, choosing to roost under loose bark and in the cavities of trees.

These bats hibernate from October or November to March or April, most often in caves or abandoned mines.


Northern long-eared bats are threatened by a disease known as white nose syndrome, caused by a fungus which is believed to have been inadvertently brought from Europe to North America. The fungus grows in humid cold environments, such as the caves and mines where little brown bats hibernate. The syndrome affects bats by disrupting their hibernation cycle, so that they use up body fat supplies before the spring when they can once again find food sources. It is also thought that the fungus affects the wing membrane, which helps to maintain water balance in bats. Because of this, thirst may wake bats up from hibernation, which may be why those infected with white nose syndrome can be seen flying outside caves and mines during the winter.

In Ontario, bat populations dropped by more than 90 per cent in eight hibernation sites with more than two years’ exposure to white nose syndrome. Bats at more than three quarters of Ontario’s hibernation sites are at high risk of disappearing due to white nose syndrome. Mass die-offs mean that there are no individuals left to reproduce.


The northern long-eared bat (northern myotis) is listed as endangered under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act.

How You Can Help

  • Don’t enter non-commercial caves and abandoned mines where bats may be present. Avoid visiting caves and abandoned mines where white nose syndrome has been identified.
  • Report any unusual bat behaviour or deaths to the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at 1-866-673-4781 or the Natural Resources Information Centre at 1-800-667-1940.
  • Bat proof your home. If a bat flies into your home, deal with it humanely. For tips, check out MNR's Bats in your House fact sheet. If you think you have a colony of bats living in your attic or barn, MNR has information on how to deal with it.
  • Consider building a bat box for your property. Learn more about how to build one and where to set it up. [SAR Branch providing URL]
  • If you spot a northern long-eared bat, report your sighting to the Natural Heritage Information Centre (http://nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/nhic/species/species_report.cfm) Observations submitted by the public are very important in informing recovery planning, stewardship projects and other conservation initiatives for species at risk in Ontario. Whenever possible, include detailed location information and a photograph with your observation.
  • If you know of a bat colony, participate in MNR’s summer Maternity Roost Monitoring Program [URL to follow – document not yet posted on MNR website].
  • Report any wildlife related infractions to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private landowners have an important role to play in species recovery. You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats. For more information contact the Ministry of Natural Resources at 1-800-667-1940.

Did you know?

One bat can consume hundreds of flying insects each night during the summer. Northern long-eared bats help control populations of potentially harmful insects.

Did you know?

Northern long-eared bats locate food by using echolocation. They send out signals and when the echo of that signal bounces back, they can identify where objects are located.

Did you know?

While most Ontario bats catch their dinner in mid-air, northern long-eared bats have also been observed flying down and picking insects off tree leaves, grasses and the ground.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.