This species is found throughout Eurasia and part of northern Africa. It has gone extinct in the United Kingdom after 1990.
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native )
M. myotis are relatively large bats, with long ears, overall length 6.5-8.0 cm, broad wingspan 36.5-45.0 cm, and forearm length about 5.7 cm. Adult body weights are about 20-45 g. Females are larger than males.
M. myotis are very similar to M. blythii phisically.
Range mass: 20 to 45 g.
Range length: 6.5 to 8.0 cm.
Range wingspan: 36.5 to 45.0 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
M. myotis primarily inhabit caves and buildings such as churches and castles. They also dwell in relatively open, lightly wooded forests.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest
Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban
Habitat and Ecology
These bats are opportunistic predators. They primarily feed on ground beetles such as carabids (Carabidae), but also prey on large moths and grass beetles whenever possible. M. myotis prefer feeding in open woodland with ground cover of few grasses. They may have evolved to catch ground beetles on the soil surface. However, they may select alternative preys if primary sources do not meet their requirements. They consume around 25-50% of body weight nightly.
Animal Foods: insects
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )
The main factor that causes decline of M. myotis populations may be human disturbance. People both use agrochemicals which poison bats, or disturb caves that causes death at roosts. In addition, large scale agricultural change has reduced areas of open ground and increase grassland, and this also results in reductions in the number of bats.
- humans (Homo sapiens)
Basilia nana ectoparasitises Myotis myotis
Other: minor host/prey
Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
Nycteribia kolenatii ectoparasitises Myotis myotis
Other: minor host/prey
Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
Phthiridium biarticulata ectoparasitises Myotis myotis
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Known prey organisms
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: wild: 22 (high) years.
Status: wild: 13 years.
Status: wild: 18.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)
- M. myotis are early breeders. Ovulation and fertilization may take place during February mostly, or in October if birth occurs in winter. Gestation period is about 60-70 days. Births take place mostly in April to June, but some were observed in winter. After birth, young M. myotis remain fixed on their mothers for about 2 weeks. Female M. myotis mate again as soon as the young become independent. Females store sperm in the uterus, but eggs are not fertilized until the next spring.
- Babies are born with claws on their hind feet and milk teeth. They are blind at birth. The young become independent after 2 months and start to feed on insects. They must accumulate sufficient fat reserves for hibernation.
Breeding season: Late spring to summer.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Range gestation period: 60 to 70 days.
Average weaning age: 60 days.
Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous ; sperm-storing
Average birth mass: 5.9 g.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 502 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 502 days.
Parental Investment: altricial
Evolution and Systematics
The internal magnetic compass of greater mouse-eared bats can be calibrated with directional reference from the setting sun.
"Recent evidence suggests that bats can detect the geomagnetic field, but the way in which this is used by them for navigation to a home roost remains unresolved. The geomagnetic field may be used by animals both to indicate direction and to locate position. In birds, directional information appears to be derived from an interaction of the magnetic field with either the sun or the stars, with some evidence suggesting that sunset/sunrise provides the primary directional reference by which a magnetic compass is calibrated daily. We demonstrate that homing greater mouse-eared bats (Myotis myotis) calibrate a magnetic compass with sunset cues by testing their homing response after exposure to an altered magnetic field at and after sunset. Magnetic manipulation at sunset resulted in a counterclockwise shift in orientation compared with controls, consistent with sunset calibration of the magnetic field, whereas magnetic manipulation after sunset resulted in no change in orientation. Unlike in birds, however, the pattern of polarization was not necessary for the calibration. For animals that occupy ecological niches where the sunset is rarely observed, this is a surprising finding. Yet it may indicate the primacy of the sun as an absolute geographical reference not only for birds but also within other vertebrate taxa." (Holland et al. 2010:6941)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Harmon K. 2010. Bats re-tune echolocation and use the sun's glow to navigate near and far. Scientific American [Internet],
- Holland, RA; Borissov I; Siemers BM. 2010. A nocturnal mammal, the greater mouse-eared bat, calibrates a magnetic compass by the sun. PNAS. 107(15): 6941-6945.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Myotis myotis
No available public DNA sequences.
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Myotis myotis
Public Records: 15
Specimens with Barcodes: 27
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN status category: Low risk, near threatened.
Red book: vulnerable.
Numbers have declined fast recently and the species has gone extinct in northwestern Europe.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1994Vulnerable(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Insufficiently Known(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Insufficiently Known(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
In Spain it is recommended that not only should the roosts be protected but also the surrounding countryside - a 20 km zone around the most important colonies should be maintained under traditional agricultural practices.
Research is required into the use of anti-parasitic drugs on livestock and their effect on dung beetles and other invertebrate fauna attracted to dung, as this bat species feeds on these invertebrates.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Positive Impacts: controls pest population
Greater mouse-eared bat
Like its relatives it eats various arthropods; however, unlike many bats it does not capture prey by echolocation in flight but instead gleans it from the ground, locating the prey passively – listening for the noises produced by creatures such as carabid beetles, centipedes and spiders. Thus, it uses echolocation only for spatial orientation, even if it emits ultrasound calls when approaching prey.
In summer, nursery roosts in northern Europe are located almost exclusively in large attics of buildings (e.g. churches), while in southern Europe they are located in caves. Also solitary males can roost there, although in some countries (Germany, western Poland) there are regular cases of roosting in bird and bat boxes. Greater mouse-eared bats spend winter exclusively in underground roosts, like caves, mines, forts, tunnels and large cellars.
The frequencies used by this bat species for echolocation lie between 22 and 86 kHz, have most energy at 37 kHz and have an average duration of 6.0 ms.
The greater mouse-eared bat can be found in the following countries: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Gibraltar, possibly Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
During the 20th century this species was known as a very rare one in Great Britain, occurring only in southern England. However, the bats at the only known hibernation roost declined until only a few males were left, and when these disappeared the species was believed extinct. However, in recent years occasional individuals have been discovered, suggesting either that a colony survives, or that further animals have colonised from mainland Europe.
- Chiroptera Specialist Group 1996. Myotis myotis. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 9 July 2007.
- Van den Brink, F H, A Field Guide to Mammals of Britain and Europe, Collins 1967, ISBN 0-00-212093-3
- Siemers, B.M., and Güttinger, R. (2006) 'Prey conspicuousness can explain apparent prey selectivity.' Current Biology., 16 (5): R157-R159.
- Russo, D., Jones, G. and Arlettaz, R. (2007) 'Echolocation and passive listening by foraging mouse-eared bats Myotis myotis and M. blythii.' The Journal of Experimental Biology., 210: 166-176.
- Obrist, M.K., Boesch, R. and Flückiger, P.F. (2004) 'Variability in echolocation call design of 26 Swiss bat species: Consequences, limits and options for automated field identification with a synergic pattern recognition approach.' Mammalia., 68 (4): 307-32.
- Species Action Plan: Greater Mouse-eared Bat (Myotis myotis)
- BBC Inside Out: The Search for the Greater Mouse-eared Bat