North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Species Name

Scientific Name: Chiroptera
Classification: Nongame
Abundance: Locally abundant 

Species Profile (PDF)


Bats represent one-quarter of all mammal species worldwide. Like us, they give birth to live young. Bats are relatively long-lived mammals and can survive 20 to 30 years in the wild. There are17 bat species that occur in North Carolina. Bats are primarily nocturnal, though they also forage in the early evening and early

morning hours. Although most bats have relatively good eyesight, they primarily use echolocation to navigate and locate prey. Their maneuverability is phenomenal—bats can avoid objects as small as a string in total darkness.

Bats are integral to ecosystems worldwide. Tropical bats disperse large amounts of seed and pollen, enabling plant reproduction and forest regrowth, and are especially important in the pollination of cocoa, mango, and the agave plant, which is used to produce tequila. North American bats have a major impact on controlling insect populations that are considered agricultural pests. They save the corn industry over $1 billion annually in pest control. A nursing female bat may consume almost her entire body weight in insects in one night.

All bats are nongame species and no hunting or trapping of them is allowed. 

By introducing people to bats and their benefits, and teaching them how to co-exist with bats, we can help sustain the bat populations in our state. You can support bat populations by avoiding hibernation colonies and installing bat boxes on your property. Bat Conservation International’s website has more information on bat boxes. You can also: 

1.  Plant native plants that attract insects that bats eat.

2. Limit the use of insecticides and herbicides whenever possible.

3. Join a conservation organization, such as Bat Conservation International, to remain updated on bat conservation efforts.

6. Educate yourself and others regarding the importance of bats and why they are beneficial.

The most serious threat to many bat species is white-nose syndrome, a disease caused by a fungus that thrives in caves where bats hibernate, killing anywhere from 70 to 100 percent of bats in a colony. Biologists first detected WNS in North Carolina in a bat from Avery County in 2011, and since that time, the disease has spread throughout western North Carolina where it affects seven species. The disease continues to spread eastward in the state and could potentially affect an eighth species if it reaches the Coastal Plain.


Although WNS does not affect humans or pets, its effects on bat colonies have been devastating.


Read the Wildlife Commission's 2016 North Carolina’s White-nose Syndrome Surveillance and Response Plan (2 MB - PDF)