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The Silver-haired Bat is a medium-sized bat with black wings. Its fur is black or dark brown overall, with scattered white-tipped hairs that give it a silvery appearance. The top of its tail membrane is covered in fur. The Silver-haired Bat’s ears are short and round. 

Although black bats are a popular Halloween decoration, most real bats are not black. The Silver-haired Bat is the only NWT bat species that is black. Its scientific name Lasionycteris noctivagans translates as “hairy night-wandering bat”.

Weight: 9 to 17 g (0.3 to 0.6 oz), Wingspan: 20 to 35 cm (8 to 14 in).

Report Silver-haired Bat sightings to

There are eight bat species in the NWT - seven confirmed and one suspected. Check out the Bats of the Northwest Territories poster with activities and brochure

Silver-haired Bats are insect-eating bats found across Canada, the United States and Mexico. In most of their range they migrate south for the winter, but in B.C. and Alaska some of them stay and hibernate. 

A photo taken in Fort Resolution in 2011 turned out to be the first record of a Silver-haired Bat in the NWT. Little is known about this species in the NWT.

Range map information

Silver-haired Bats primarily roost in trees: in cavities (hollows), in crevices, or under loose bark. Old growth forests with many dead or decaying trees are important roosting habitat for this bat. 

In summer, Silver-haired Bats roost alone or in small groups. Multiple females and their young may roost together in a small “maternity colony”.  Woodpecker nest sites (cavities) are important habitat for maternity colonies of Silver-haired Bats.

The Silver-haired Bat is an agile flier that forages in forests and along forest edges, as well as over ponds. It eats a variety of small, soft-bodied prey like flies, moths, leafhoppers, caddisflies, beetles, ants, and spiders.

During migration, Silver-haired Bats are exposed to many threats including collisions with wind turbines. The Silver-haired Bat is one of three migratory tree-roosting bat species whose Canadian population has declined dramatically in recent years; the others are the Hoary Bat and Eastern Red Bat

Collisions with wind turbines kill many Silver-haired Bats, especially when turbines are built along migration routes or near other key bat habitat.

Other threats include widespread declines in insect populations; loss of mature forest habitat; and environmental pollution such as mercury, pesticides, industrial pollutants and wildfire smoke. Predation by domestic cats may also be an issue.

White-nose syndrome is probably not a major threat to migratory bat species, but its potential impact on Silver-haired Bat is unclear.

In 2023, COSEWIC assessed Silver-haired Bat as Endangered in Canada because of dramatic population declines in recent years. An NWT Bats Management Plan is available here.

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