The gray long-eared bat was voted by you at the end of January as Bat of 2022-2023 in Romania. More than 50% of the votes were cast in favor of the species, which thus becomes the successor to the Barbastelle, the species chosen in the previous vote. At the same time, at European level also a species with huge ears, the brown long-eared bat became the bat of the years 2022-2023 (we were a little ahead, the species being Bat of the year in Romania in 2017) :)

As we said during the vote, the gray long-eared bat (Plecotus austriacus) has gigantic ears and a preference for rural areas. These ears, with over 3-4 cm in lenght, are perfect for perceiving even the slightest noise made by tasty insects. Of course, this noise is actually the echo of the ultrasound emitted by the bat, which accurately locates the prey. Over 70% of the species’ menu is made up of moths, which they catch with a very maneuverable flight close to the vegetation, or even pick them directly from the leaves.

The gray long-eared bat is attracted to diverse rural areas, with gardens and orchards, pastures and meadows, but also arable land. During the summer, the species forms small nursery colonies (max. a few dozen females) in the attics of buildings, and despite their huge ears, they quickly retreat between the beams at the sign of the slightest disturbance. The winter period finds them in underground locations, hibernating solitarily. Being a species that tolerates low temperatures very well, it can easily hibernate even in the entrance area of ​​caves, at temperatures close to 0 degrees Celsius. But in order not to freeze, their ears are folded under their forearm during hibernation. Yes, those huge ears are foldable :)

It is a sedentary species, with the longest migration distances being around 50-60 km. Due to the use of the buildings as roosts, the colonies of the species can be severely affected by inadequate building renovations, including the treatment of wooden materials, that are toxic for bats. The gray long-eared bat is very faithful to the area of ​​residence, hunting only a few kilometers away from the building used as a roost. Thus, it may also be affected by the intensive use of pesticides and insecticides in horticulture and agriculture in the area of ​​residence.