Quick facts

Common names: brown long-eared bat

Scientific name: Plecotus auritus

Family: Vespertilionidae

Diet: moths, earwigs, flies, spiders and beetles

Predators: birds of prey and domestic cats

Origin: native

What do brown long-eared bats look like?

As the name suggests, a brown long-eared bat's signature characteristic is its big ears which are almost as long as its body. When resting, it rolls its ears back or hides them underneath its wings.

It is a medium-sized bat, growing to around 8cm in length, including ears. It has light grey-brown fur and a pale underside.

Not to be confused with: the grey long-eared bat which is much rarer. Those look similar to the brown long-eared but are larger and grey in colour, with a darker face.

What do brown long-eared bats eat?

This bat's diet consists of invertebrates like moths, earwigs, flies and beetles. They glide slowly when they hunt, diving low to forage for insects.

They eat small prey mid-flight, but take bigger prey to a perch where they eat upside-down.

Brown long-eared bats roosting in a tree

Credit: David Chapman / Alamy Stock Photo

How do brown long-eared bats breed?

Mating happens during the autumn, but bats can delay their pregnancies until they gather in maternity roosts in the spring. These maternity roosts can have groups of up to 30 pregnant bats. Unlike other bat species, male long-eared bats join the maternity roosts.

Bat pups are born from late June to July and become independent after six weeks.

Do brown long-eared bats hibernate?

These bats hibernate during winter, usually between November and April. They tend to spend the winters hidden away in tunnels, caves and mines.

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Where do brown long-eared bats live?

Found across the UK, the brown long-eared bat prefers light woodland. It also visits gardens in its search for food, but it avoids built-up areas.

It typically roosts in trees, but also in attics and old buildings.

Did you know?

Brown long-eared bats swoop very low to the ground and might even land to eat large prey.

Signs and spotting tips

The best time to see a brown long-eared bat is after sunset, when they leave their roosts to hunt. They usually follow linear features like streams, fences and hedges, and fly a bit slower than other bats.

Brown long-eared bat in flight at night

Credit: Owen Newman Nature Photographers Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo

Threats and conservation

Brown long-eared bats are one of the most common bats in the UK, but we don't know whether their numbers are on the up or down.

We do know that they are threatened by loss of their woodland habitats, which deprives bats of roost sites and hunting grounds.

All species of bat in the UK are protected by law which means it is illegal to disturb, injure or kill them.