Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Chiroptera / Vespertilionidae / Nyctalus / Species
Nyctalus noctula - Noctule (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Great Bat
  • Noctule commune (French)
  • Abendsegler (German)
  • Murciélago noctulo común (Spanish)
  • Vespertilio noctula Schreber, 1774; France
  • Vespertilio magnus Berkenhout, 1789; Cambridge, England.
  • Vespertilio altivolans White, 1789; Selborne, Hants, England.

Alternative species names (the second part of the binomial species names): [Genus] altivolans; [Genus] furvus; [Genus] labiatus; [Genus] lardarius; [Genus] lebanoticus; [Genus] macuanus; [Genus] magnus; [Genus] mecklenburzevei; [Genus] minima; [Genus] palustris; [Genus] plancei; [Genus] princeps; [Genus] proterus; [Genus] rufescens; [Genus] sinensis; [Genus] velutinus; (B141).

Names for new-borns / juveniles

Names for males  
Names for females  

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General Appearance

Large bat, with short sleek golden/ginger fur (B142, B167).

Similar Species

Other bats.
  • Simple nose shape (no horseshoe)
  • Ears well seperated from one another at base
  • Post-calcarial lobe present on membrane
  • Forearm more than 47mm
  • Fur sleek, golden brown (whole body and even colour to each hair), tragus mushroom-shaped

(B167, B142)

Sexual Dimorphism Males slightly smaller than females (B142).

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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B51, B52, 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


Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques


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Husbandry Information


  • Breeding colony successfully maintained in close confinement for 6 years.
  • Also maintained in large outdoor flight chamber (12x7x4m)


Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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Appearance / Morphology

Measurement & Weight

  • Head-body length 70-82mm (B142).
  • Forearm 47-55mm (B142)
  • Wingspan 330-450mm (B142).
Height --
Adult weight General 15-49g (B142)
Male June/July mean 30.2g, October mean 33.2g (B142)
Female --
New-born weight About 5g (B147).
Growth rate Adult size by about 6-7 weeks (B147).

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General Skull: Condylobasilar length 17.6-19.0mm (B142).

Nose: Muzzle broad, glandular. Corners of mouth have conspicuous white glands particularly in males (B142).

Ears: Short stout broad ears (15mm-18 long and wide), well separated at base, brown, with tragus mushroom-shaped (B142, B167).

Dentition (Teeth) I 2/3, C1/1, P2/2, M3/3 (B142).
  • Incisors: second upper incisor has larger crown area than first upper incisor.
  • Premolars: first upper premolar very small.


Eyes --

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Legs and Tracks

Wings narrow, pointed (B142).
  • Wingspan: 330-450mm (B142).
  • Forearm length: 47-55mm (B142).

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Tip of tail to about 2mm past tail (interfemoral) membrane (B142).

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Coat / Pelage

Adult Female Fur short and sleek, with even colour of hair from base to tips.
  • Dorsal: Golden/ginger / reddish
  • Ventral: slightly paler.
  • Face and ears: dark brown (nearly black)
  • Membranes: Dark brown (nearly black), with fur on wing membrane.

(B142, B167)

Variations (If present)
  • Males: adult males brighter (B142).
Moult --
New-born / Juvenile
  • Juveniles darker, also slightly duller (B142)

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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 mainly September to October (in captivity also in winter and spring) (B142).
Oestrus / Ovulation
  • Ovulation in spring (B142).
Gestation / Pregnancy
Parturition / Birth
  • Usually early June to early July (B142).
Neonatal development
  • First flights in early July (some as late as September or October in England).
  • Weaning in August.


6-7 weeks: weaned, reach adult size (B147).

Litter size
  • One, rarely twins (more often in mainland Europe than in Britain) and exceptionally triplets.
  • Twins usual in southern Bohemia.


Time between Litters / Litters per year
Lactation / Milk Production --
Sexual Maturity
  • Females: first or second autumn (i.e. some give birth as yearlings).
  • Males: spermatogenesis occurs in second summer; yearlings do not mate.


  • Longest recorded 8 years (B142).

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Natural Diet

  • Large insects e.g. Acheta domestica - House cricket, Amphimallon solstitialis - Summer chafer, Melolontha melolontha - Cockchafer (may be a particular favourite).
  • Small flies and beetles in Russia.


  • Trichoptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera and Coleoptera prefered (B143).
  • Recorded catching and eating Mus musculus - House mouse (B147)

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

Temperature --
Pulse --
Respiration --
Faeces 11-15mm by 3.0-3.5mm (B142).
Haematology / Biochemistry --
Chromosomes 2n = 42, FNa = 50 (B142).
Other --

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Feeding Behaviour

  • Catch prey in flight.
  • May also take food from surface.


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Parental Behaviour


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Social Behaviour / Territoriality

  • Nursery roosts over 100 individuals in continental Europe.
  • In Britain mean per roost 14 bats in one study.
  • Females move between roosts in March, carrying juveniles.
  • Males solitary or in small groups
  • Establish territorial mating roosts August - September, with females moving between these.

Winter: large (up to 1000 individuals) mixed-sex colonies.


Inter-specific Two males found with male Myotis daubentonii - Daubenton's bats once in Yorkshire in September (B142).

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Sexual Behaviour

  • Promiscuous.
  • Breeding males occupy and defend roost site, flying out of roost several times each night to spend a few minutes calling to attract females.

(B52, B142).

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Predation in Wild

Include Tyto alba - Barn owl, and Strix aluco - Tawny owl (B142).

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Activity Patterns

  • High, fast and straight (occasional rapid diversions) just before sunset
  • Fast flights (up to 30m high), with deep dives, occassional glides.
  • Decreased activity in bad weather - none caught by mist-netting in heavy rain.
  • Greatly reduced foraging activity in winter.


  • Flights start 2-40 minutes after sunset.
  • Peak foraging activity for about one hour at dusk.
  • Second peak of foraging activity for about 30 minutes at dawn.


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Habitat and Range

General Habitat Type

  • Lakes, pond, meadows and marshland, usually near the roosting site, used for foraging (B143).

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Nests / Burrows / Shelters

  • Mature deciduous trees: rot-holes and woodpecker holes, used throughout the year.
  • In winter: rock face crevices, also buildings. Tree holes "south of the line delineating January isotherm -2 to -4°C" (B142)
  • Use bat boxes.

(B142, B143)

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Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Most of Europe and temperate Asia as far east as south-western Siberia, China, north Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Burma, Oman, Vietnam and (doubtfully) Malaysia. Recorded in Africa (Algeria, possibly Mozambique).
  • In Europe: from Iberian Peninsula eastwards to Urals and Caucasus. North in Sweden as far as edge of broad-leafed forest (60-61°N).

(B51, B143)

  • In Britain: throughout England (including Isle of Wight, probably throughout Wales (including Angelsea), also recorded south-west Scotland (B142).


  • Migratory in former USSR. Probably non-migratory in western Europe although some long distance movements from summer roosts. British population non-migratory.
  • Individuals may move 20-44 km per day.
  • Movements of 750km and even as long as 2,347km recorded.
  • Mass migration in autumn, while in spring males may stay in mating area while females return to natal area.

(B142, B143, B147).

Occasional and Accidental
  • Vagrants to Orkney, Shetland, North Sea oil rigs (B142).
  • At least one record from Mozambique (B143).


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Intraspecific variation

  • Five subspecies recognised, and may possibly be more than one species.
  • Only nominate form Nyctalus noctula noctula is found in Europe.


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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Generally widespread and abundant.

  • Great Britain: now rare in some areas, particularly agricultural areas.
  • Netherlands: local declines due to loss of wetlands.
  • Sweden: vulnerable due to destruction of hollow trees.


  • In Britain: native, "generally uncommon but more numerous in well-wooded areas". Pre-breeding population estimate of about 50,000, with 45,000 in England, 250 in Scotland, 4750 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 --
  • Lack of available tree holes.
  • Organochlorines.
  • Illegal persecution.


  • Loss of ancient woodlands and old hedgerows affecting roost site and foraging habitat availability (B221).
Captive Populations --
Trade --

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