Seminole Bat (Lasiurus seminolus)
- Protection Status Notes
- L. seminolus is not listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Its status and population trends are unknown.
- Lasiurus seminolus is a medium-sized bat with deep mahogany fur which is frosted at the tips, giving the bat a distinct reddish-maroon hue, unlike the reddish orange of eastern red bats. The Seminole bat has a furred tail membrane, well furred to the tip of its tail. Its fur extends along the underarms to the wrists, ending with distinctive white patches on the wrists and shoulders. This bat has a forearm length of 35-45 mm and weighs 8-15 g. It can best be distinguished from the red bat by its mahogany color. Hoary bats are much larger (forearm 50-57 mm) and yellow bats lack white wrist and shoulder markings.
- Life History
- The Seminole Bat is closely associated with mixed deciduous forests where Spanish moss is prevalent, though little is known about this bat's life history. It is assumed that mating occurs in late fall or early winter, possibly in flight, as in the closely related red bat. During winter and early spring, Seminole Bats are solitary. They do not hibernate or undergo extended migration. They appear to fall into torpor during cold spells and wake up to feed in warmer times. Most young are born in late May or early June, though times of birthing likely vary in years of differing climatic conditions. Litters of one to four are reported range-wide for this species. The young are fully furred and appear almost identical to their mothers by the time they are two weeks old. Within three to four weeks they are capable of flight. No studies of Seminole bat longevity exist.
Both males and females roost in Spanish moss during winter and spring. Many roosts are in shaded locations, over ground that reflects minimal sunlight and where the bats are able to drop into flight. Females rear young in tree foliage. During extreme weather conditions, these bats may roost beneath loose bark.
Seminole Bats emerge early in the evening year-round when temperatures are above 70 ° F. They are fast, direct flyers, feeding in flight above treetop level or as close as one meter above the ground in open areas. These bats also may glean insects from foliage. They forage mostly over watercourses, pine barrens, and clearings, but also are thought to prefer edge habitats along rivers or roadways, sometimes joining in large multiple-species feeding aggregations at dusk. They take advantage of prey attracted to street lamps and have been observed feeding between 8:00 PM and midnight, and again shortly before 2:00 AM for about half an hour. Little is known about Seminole Bat food preferences, but the few available studies have shown that they consume mostly leafhoppers, flies, beetles, bees, and ants. Amounts vary with prey availability, season, and location.
- The Seminole Bat spends most of its life in forests of mixed oak, pine, hickory, and blackgum or in lowland cypress stands and river swamps. These bats also have been found on islands and along prairie edges.
- The distribution of the Seminole bat is closely associated with lowland wooded areas that support Spanish moss. It ranges throughout the Gulf Coast States, from Fayette and Matagorda Counties in Texas (oak-hickory, pine-oak, and longleaf pine forest region), north to southeastern Oklahoma, southern Arkansas, to Miami, Florida, and the Carolinas. Isolated records as far north as New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin appear to represent late summer wanderers.
- Threats and Reasons for Decline
- Seminole bats are found by professional moss gatherers inside clumps of Spanish moss. Moss gathering may threaten these bats in some areas, though no documentation of the extent of such effects exists.
Blue jays are suspected of preying on these bats in the spring when young are unable to fly. In fact, most predators documented to feed on eastern red bats probably also feed on Seminole bats.
- Ongoing Recovery
- Since this species seems to prefer edge habitats, it may benefit from wise forest management. Education of moss collectors could also benefit this species. Additional knowledge of roosting and feeding requirements would be helpful.
- Though Seminole Bats are often assumed to have requirements similar to red bats, this is only speculation.
- Additional details can be found in the online version of The Mammals of Texas for the Seminole Bat