13 Types of Bats In Tennessee! (ID GUIDE)

How can anyone in Tennessee think that bats are scary?

Types of bats in Tennessee

Despite what you see in the movies, these fascinating flying mammals wouldn’t hurt a fly! Well, technically, they would hurt a fly, or a mosquito, or a moth. But other than that, bats are harmless. 🙂

It’s hard to believe the diversity and amount of bat species that can be found in Tennessee! But, unfortunately, when you see a bat, it’s typically pretty difficult to determine which kind it is. These nocturnal creatures fly incredibly fast and are only active at night.

13 kinds of bats in Tennessee:


#1. Big Brown Bat

  • Eptesicus fuscus

Types of bats in Tennessee

  • It is a larger bat with around a 12-inch (30 cm) wingspan.
  • Brown fur with black ears, wings, and feet. Wings are hairless.

Big Brown Bats are among the most common bats in Tennessee.

If you look, you’ll find these bats inside caves, tunnels, or other human structures.

Big Brown Bat Range Map

big brown bat range map

This nocturnal bat primarily eats insects, especially ones that fly at night. However, their preference is to eat beetles.

The Cucumber Beetle is their favorite, which benefits farmers because these insects are terrible pests for agriculture. Many farmers in Tennessee even use bat boxes to attract Big Brown Bats to their property!

Interestingly, many Big Brown Bats have immunity to rabies. Researchers discovered that these rabies antibodies get passed down from generation to generation!


#2. Hoary Bat

  • Lasiurus cinereus
Types of bats in Tennessee
Hoary bat. (2023, March 29). In Wikipedia.
  • Brown hair with grayish-white tips. Wings and belly are brown and hairless, with a wingspan of approximately 15.5 inches (39 cm).
  • Males are almost double the size of females.

You’ll typically find Hoary Bats in Tennessee roosting on trees in woodland forests. They are solitary bats that roost in open foliage. They do form “flocks” when migrating south in late summer, but they don’t hang out with other bats normally.

Hoary Bat Range Map

hoary bat range map

This species prefers to hunt for prey while flying over wide-open areas or lakes. Hoary Bats hunt alone and enjoy eating moths. They’re known to travel up to 24 miles (39 km) in a single night to gather food!

Though the Hoary Bat is not endangered, it does suffer a loss in numbers because of wind turbines. Hoarys migrate each year back and forth from North America to Central America, and it’s thought that they confuse the wind turbine with a tree as they seek a place to rest.


#3. Silver-haired Bat

  • Lasionycteris noctivagans
Types of bats in Tennessee
© Jeff Bartlett
  • Medium-sized with a flathead. The upper part of the tail is covered in thick fur.
  • Mostly black all over with white tips on hairs, with a wingspan of approximately 11.5 inches (29 cm).

This species is known to fly more slowly than other bats in Tennessee.

Look for Silver-haired Bats in forests inside tree cavities or bark crevices. They’ve also been known to seek shelter in outbuildings.

Silver-haired Bat Range Map

silver haired bat range map

Silver-haired Bats hunt for soft-bodied insects, such as moths. Interestingly, they also eat a lot of spiders. They accomplish this feat by foraging low to the ground to find food, unlike many other bats.


#4. Little Brown Bat

  • Myotis lucifugus

Types of bats in Tennessee

  • Glossy brown fur on the body. Wings are hairless and black, with a wingspan of approximately 10 inches (25 cm).
  • Despite its name, it has no connection to the Big Brown Bat.

Look for the Little Brown Bat roosting in Tennessee in sheltered places such as human structures, woodpiles, tree hollows, and occasionally caves.

You can even attract Little Brown Bats to your yard! Many people put up bat houses to attract them to their property to control pests like mosquitos or insects that harm crops.

Little Brown Bat Range Map

Little brown bat. (2023, October 27). In Wikipedia.

Distribution of all little brown bat subspecies: M. l. lucifugus (red), M. l. pernox (green), M. l. alascensis (blue), M. l. carissima (yellow), M. l. relictus (gray)

Little Brown Bats only have a few natural predators, like owls or raccoons. Unfortunately, most of their mortality is caused by parasites or White-nose syndrome.

White-nose syndrome is a fungal disease that grows around the bats’ mouths, ears, and wings. This illness is spread during hibernation and is responsible for the loss of over one million Little Brown Bats between 2006 and 2011. As of 2018, the Little Brown Bat is an endangered species.


#5. Eastern Red Bat

  • Lasiurus borealis

  • Medium-sized tree bat with thick, long fur. Ears are short and round. Wings are long, pointed, and have a wingspan of approximately 13 inches (33 cm).
  • Males have distinctive rusty red-colored fur, and females have more of a soft shade of red.
  • Both have white patches of fur on their shoulder.

Eastern Red Bats like to roost in trees in Tennessee.

These bats are relatively fast flyers with good maneuverability. They are insectivorous, which means they prey primarily on different insects, with their favorite being moths.

Eastern Red Bat Range Map

eastern red bat range map

Unlike most bats that only produce one offspring, Eastern Red Bats have three pups in a litter.

Eastern Red Bats have few predators. However, sometimes hawks, aggressive Blue Jays, and crows attack them. This bat is also killed by flying into cars or wind turbines. Unfortunately, this species has the second-highest mortality rate from wind turbines.


#6. Tricolored Bat

  • Perimyotis subflavus

  • Small bat with blond hair on the chest. Their wingspan is approximately 9 inches (23 cm).
  • The “tricolor” name comes from the coloration of the three distinct bands of hairs on their back: dark gray on the bottom, yellowish-brown in the middle, and brown or reddish-brown on top.
  • Formerly known as the Eastern Pipistrelle.

This species is the smallest bat found in Tennessee!

Despite their small stature, Tricolored Bats can live to be 15 years old, which is a long time for bats! And interestingly, Tricolored Bats mate in the fall, but the female stores the sperm and doesn’t become pregnant until spring.

Tricolored Bat Range Map

tricolored bat range map

Did you know the Tricolored Bat’s natural predators include many birds of prey, snakes, skunks, other bats, and Northern Leopard Frogs? It’s crazy to think of a frog eating a bat, but it shows how tiny these mammals are!

Tricolored Bats used to be considered one of the most common bats around. But, unfortunately, their numbers have been decimated by White-nose syndrome. It’s thought that 70% of their population has succumbed to this fungal disease.


#7. Northern Long-eared Bat

  • Myotis septentrionalis
Myotis septentrionalis. (2023, October 9). In Wikipedia.
  • Fur and wing membranes are tan, with black ears and black wings: long tail and a wingspan up to 10 inches (25 cm).
  • Look for their long, pointed ears.
  • Also called the Northern Myotis.

Northern Long-eared Bats are found in Tennessee in forested habitats with spruce and pine trees. They typically roost in trees during the summer and switch to a new roost every other day. In the fall, these bats migrate to caves to hibernate with other species of bats.

Northern Long-eared Bat Range Map

northern long eared bat range map

Northern Long-eared Bats have incredibly accurate echolocation calls, which helps them navigate their dense forest environments.

Unlike most bats, Northern Long-eared Bats capture their prey by plucking them from a surface rather than catching them in flight. They eat insects, with moths being their favorite.

Sadly, the Northern Long-eared Bat has been threatened by White-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that kills many bats. This disease has decreased their population by 99%. Click play to learn more below!


#8. Evening Bat

  • Nycticeius humeralis
Evening bat. (2022, November 22). In Wikipedia.
  • Smaller bat with a prominent dog-like jaw.
  • Most are dark brown with black muzzle, ears, legs, and wings, but some are lighter brown. Their wingspan is approximately 10.5 inches (27 cm).

Evening Bats have a shorter life span than other bats in Tennessee.

Most only live for four years, but some are lucky enough to make it to six years.

Evening Bat Range Map

evening bat range map

But luckily, they have largely avoided the dreaded White-nose syndrome, a terrible disease that has killed millions of bats over the years. They have managed this because they don’t enter or hibernate in caves.

Look for Evening Bats roosting in structures, including tree cavities, under bark, in Spanish moss, and in buildings. They eat various insects, including beetles, moths, winged ants, and flies.


#9. Eastern Small-footed Bat

  • Myotis leibii
Eastern small-footed myotis. (2023, October 17). In Wikipedia.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • It is a small bat with a short, flat head and a dark black face that resembles a dark mask.
  • Black ears, wings, and feet. Shiny brown dense fur, pointy ears, and sloped forehead. Their wingspan is approximately 9 inches (23 cm).

The Eastern Small-footed Bat is one of the smallest bats in Tennessee.

Eastern Small-footed Bats get their name from their abnormally small hind feet.

Eastern Small-footed Bat Range Map

eastern small footed bat range map

This species, like most bats, feeds on flying insects such as moths, beetles, and flies. But the Eastern Small-footed can fill their stomachs within an hour of eating. So, these bats prefer fast food to fine dining. 🙂

The Eastern Small-footed Bat has more extended thumbs and claws at the top of its wings than other bats. This adaptation helps them immensely because they spend much of their time climbing in rocky areas.

This species has several threats, including White-nose syndrome, water pollution, and human disturbance during hibernation. Even small amounts of noise and light are enough to wake bats. When a bat wakes up during hibernation, it expends energy and depletes its fat reserves to survive winter. So sadly, if a bat is repeatedly disturbed, it will likely die and not live until spring.


#10. Indiana Bat

  • Myotis sodalist
© Marlo Perdicas
  • The fur can be black or dark brown, and the belly can be light gray to reddish-brown. Their wingspan is approximately 10 inches (25 cm).
  • The best way to tell them apart from other brown bats is their pink lips.

The Indiana Bat is highly endangered in Tennessee.

Its population has decreased by over 50% over the past 10 years. Unfortunately, they can quickly spread White-nose syndrome to each other because they hibernate in such large groups.

Indiana Bat Range Map

indiana bat range map

These bats live in a variety of habitats. First, they’re found primarily in hardwood forests in giant trees. Then, in winter, many of these species get together in different caves and hibernate in large masses.


#11. Seminole Bat

  • Lasiurus seminolus
© Hila Taylor
  • Smaller bat with round and short ears. Wingspan is approximately 9 inches (23 cm).
  • Darker red fur with white-tipped hairs on their back

Seminole Bats are mainly found in forests in Tennessee.

In particular, they’re closely associated with forests that have Spanish moss since that is where they roost during spring and winter. Professional moss gatherers often find these bats inside clumps.

Seminole Bat Range Map

seminole bat range map

Even though Seminole Bats seem common, little research has been done on them. For example, scientists have no idea about their average lifespan.

These bats are insectivores and feed primarily on ants, bees, wasps, beetles, and moths. Interestingly, they take advantage of street lights that attract lots of bugs.


#12. Southeastern Myotis

  • Myotis austroriparius
© Hila Taylor
  • The fur varies from bright orange-brown to gray. The wingspan is approximately 10 inches (25 cm).
  • Females are often more brightly colored than males.

This bat prefers bottomland hardwood forests in Tennessee.

Look for them near water, as this is where they like to roost and search for food. The diet of the Southeastern Myotis consists mainly of caddisflies.

Southeastern Myotis Range Map

southeastern myotis range map

The Southeastern Myotis are a crucial food source for the Barred Owl during nesting season. Interestingly, when it’s not the nesting season, the owls tend to leave the bats alone.

This species is unique compared to other bats in Tennessee because females primarily have twins. Most other bats only have one offspring.


#13. Gray Bat

  • Myotis grisescens
© Hila Taylor
  • Smaller bat with long thumbs and claws. The fur is dark gray.
  • Black wing, ears, and legs. The wingspan is approximately 10 inches (25 cm). Ears are medium in length.

Out of all the bats in Tennessee, this species is most dependent on caves.

Therefore, do not look for these bats in tree cavities, barns, artificial structures, or anywhere else that is not a cave!

Gray Bat Range Map

gray bat range map

Gray Bats prefer to forage over water, such as streams, to consume night-flying insects. They typically feed in small groups as long as there is enough food for everyone. But if food becomes scarce, they want to be alone and become very territorial.

Unfortunately, the Gray Bat is on the endangered species list because of its population decline due to human disturbance. Pollution, urbanization, deforestation, and mining are all to blame.


Do you need additional help identifying bats in Tennessee?

If so, this field guide should be able to help you.


Which of these bats have you seen before in Tennessee?

Leave a comment below!


Check out my other guides about animals in Tennessee!

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