Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Chiroptera / Vespertilionidae / Plecotus / Species
Plecotus austriacus -Grey long-eared bat (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)








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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Oriellard gris (French)
  • Graues Langohr (German)
  • Murcielago orejudo gris (Spanish)
  • Vespertilio auritus austriacus Fischer, 1829; Austria

Alternative species names (the second part of the binomial species names): [Genus] ariel; [Genus] christiei; [Genus] hispanicus; [Genus] kischbaumii; [Genus] kolombatovici; [Genus] kozlovi; [Genus] macrobullaris; [Genus] meridionalis; [Genus] mordax; [Genus] wardi (B141).

Names for new-borns / juveniles

Names for males  
Names for females  

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General Appearance

Medium-large bat, grey and long-furred with black face, large oval ears and short thumbs (Which).

Similar Species

Other bats. Distinguished by:
  • Nose with simple shape (no horseshoe)
  • Base of ears joined at top of head
  • Ear more than 25mm long when extended: nearly as long as body.

Distinguished from Plecotus auritus - Brown long-eared bat by: grey colour, tragus more than 5.5mm wide at widest point, short thumbs (usually less than 6.2mm), face usually black, upper canine large and angular in section below the cingulum, second upper premolar less than half height of first upper premolar.

(B142, B147, B167)

Sexual Dimorphism Females slightly larger than males as shown by forearm measurement, and heavier (by 1.0g pre-hibernation and by 0.8g post-hibernation) (B142).

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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B51, B141, B142, B143, B147, B167, B221

Husbandry references:

(UK Contacts)

(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

  • --

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

  • Insectivorous Bats (Microchiroptera)

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

  • Insectivorous Bats (Microchiroptera)

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Husbandry Information


  • Relatively aggressive when handled (B142).
  • Have not been maintained in captivity (B142).
Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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Appearance / Morphology

Measurement & Weight

  • Head-body length: 40-52mm (B142).
  • Forearm length: 38-43mm (B142).
  • Wingspan: 255-300mm (B142).
Height --
Adult weight General October mean 11.3g, January mean 10.0g, April mean 8.0g (29% weight loss during hibernation) (B142).
Male --
Female --
New-born weight --
Growth rate --

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General Skull: Condylobasilar length 15-17mm (B142).


Ears: large (30-38mm long) and oval when erect, folded back when at rest, brownish. Ears joined as bases by prominent interauricular membrane. Tragus broad (over 5.6mm, usually over 6.0mm), anterior edge basically straight, posterior edge proximal half strongly convex, distal part concave. Tragus remains erect when ears folded under wings (B142, B147, B167)

Dentition (Teeth)
  • I 2/3, C1/1, P2/3, M3/3 (B142).
  • Upper canines: large, angular in section below the cingulum, second upper premolar less than half height of first upper premolar (B142).

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Legs and Tracks

  • Forearm length: 38-43mm (B142).
  • Wingspan: 255-300mm (B142).
  • Thumbs: short (usually less than 6.2mm), relatively thick (B142, B167).

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Coat / Pelage

Adult Female Fur long.
  • Dorsal: medium/dark grey or blackish, with base of hairs black, tips pale grey.
  • Ventral: light grey, base of hairs black, tips whitish
  • Face: black or dark brown.
  • Ears: dark brown
  • Membranes: dark brown

(B142, B167)

Variations (If present) --
Moult --
New-born / Juvenile
  • Fur sooty-grey with colour of individual hairs at base and tip similar (B167).

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Neonate (New-born) Characteristics


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Detailed Anatomy Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)


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Life Stages / Natural Diet / Physiology

Reproductive Stages

Breeding Season Mating autumn: start mid-September, mating season lasts about one month, and may also copulate when arouse during winter (B142).
Oestrus / Ovulation --
Gestation / Pregnancy --
Parturition / Birth July (B142).
Neonatal development Similar to Plecotus auritus - Brown long-eared bat:
  • First ten days: cling to nipple continuously, but left in creches in roost while female forages.
  • After ten days old: rarely attached to mother during day, creche formation less obvious
  • 30 days (approximate): first leave roost (few days previous make practice flights within roost)
  • 6 weeks (approximate): weaned.


Litter size
Time between Litters / Litters per year
  • One per year (B142).
Lactation / Milk Production
  • About six weeks (B142).
Sexual Maturity
  • Males: one year old.
  • Females: first young born in second or third year.


Longevity Maximum recorded Britain 11 years, continental Europe 12 years (B142).

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Natural Diet

Small to medium-sized insects, particularly noctuid moths:
  • Lepidoptera (moths) are very important
  • Coleoptera (beetles, small to medium-sized)
  • Also Diptera, Hymenoptera, Neuroptera, Heteroptera, Homoptera, Trichoptera.

(B142, B143, B147).

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Detailed Physiology Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

Temperature --
Pulse --
Respiration --
Faeces 8-12mm long, usually black, often shiny. Accumulate below roost sites (B142)
Haematology / Biochemistry --
Chromosomes 2n = 32, FNa = 50-52 (B142)
Other --

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Feeding Behaviour

  • Opportunistic feeders.
  • Catch prey in free flight, may also glean from foliage.
  • Eat on wing, also use feeding perches while consuming prey: piles of insect remains below these perches.


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Parental Behaviour

Similar to Plecotus auritus - Brown long-eared bat: female recognises infant by vocal and olfactory cues: may be assisted by facial gland secretion (oily, sweet-smelling) produced by lactating and post-lactating females (B142).

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Social Behaviour / Territoriality

  • Sexes found seperately June to Sepember (Dorset data).
  • Females form nursery colonies. Usually 10-20 bats (B147)
  • High aggression levels suggested by large number of healed wounds.
  • May be male territoriality, as only one male found per section of roost

(B142, B147)

Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

  • Promiscuous (B142).

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Predation in Wild

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Activity Patterns

  • Hibernation: begins October, ends March (females) or April (males).
  • Flight: straight flight path, usually 2 to 5m above ground.
  • Hang free in exposed positions.
  • Hibernation temperature range: Czechoslovakia 2-9°C; Britain 12°C and relatively active over winter (probably due to temperature fluctuations).
  • When hibernating: wings usually folded loosely around body, with ears under wings and legs bent.


Circadian Emerge from roost about dusk, forage intermitently until dawn (B142).

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Habitat and Range

General Habitat Type

  • England, Channel Islands: open lightly wooded country.
  • Continental Europe: lowland cultivated areas.


  • Open cultivated country (B147).

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Nests / Burrows / Shelters

  • Roosts: house roofs.
  • Hibernation roosts: deep in warm caves and cellars.
  • Nursery colonies: attics (open spaces) and in church lofts (warmest areas of loft).


  • Summer: in buildings; winter: in buildings or cellars (B147).

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Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

  • Iberia and North Africa to southern England, eastwards through mainland Europe (except Denmark and most of Scandinavia) to Mongolia, western China, Himalayas. Also Cape Verde Islands. (B143).
  • "Southern England and Portugal to Mongolia and Sichuan (south-western China), Arabian Peninsula, northern Africa, Ethiopia, Senegal, Cape Verde Islands" (B147).
  • Spain and southern England to western China, north-east India, Cape Verde Islands, north Africa, Senegal (B51).
  • Europe: from Portugal and southern Britain (Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex, Guernsey, Jersey, Sark) southwards to Italy and Greece, in Central and southern Europe as far north as northern Germany and 53°N in Poland and eastwards to south-west Belarus, Ukraine, Caucasus. Found on Madiera (B142, B143).


  • Sedentary.
  • Longest recorded flight 62km. Some individuals found in Britain may be immigrants from continental Europe.
  • (B142, B143).
Occasional and Accidental --


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Intraspecific variation

Within Europe two subspecies recognised:
  • Plecotus austriacus austriacus
  • Plecotus austriacus kolombatovici Šulic, 1980 (Adriatic coast and islands of former Yugoslavia) smaller than nominate subspecies.


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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
  • Declined in central Germany (B147)
  • Relatively numerous in Mediterranean, Transcaucasia and areas south of northern border of the range. (B143).
  • In Britain: native, very rare with only a few colonies known. Pre-breeding population estimate of about 1,000 with 1,000 in England, 0 in Scotland, 0 in Wales. Population estimate of this widely-distributed species was based on a limited amount of data and considered likely to be inaccurate by up to 50% in either direction (B221).

General Legislation
  • Bern Convention, Appendix II
  • Bonn Convention, Appendix II.
  • EU Habitats and Species Directive, Annex IV


CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
  • Use of pesticides in buildings used as roosts (B142, B143, B147).
Captive Populations  

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