Rafinesque's big-eared bat
Corynorhinus rafinesquii
ITIS Species Code:   555664         NatureServ Element Code:   AMACC08020
NatureServe Global Rank: 
NatureServe State (NC) Rank: 
Federal Status: 
NC State Status: 
Land Unit

US Fish & Wildlife Service
US Forest Service
US National Park Service
US Department of Defense
NC State Parks
NC University System
NC Wildlife Res. Com.
NC Forest Service
NC Div. of Coastal Mgmt.
Local Governments
Non-Governmental Org.
Other Public Lands
Private Lands

GAP Status 1-2
All Protected Lands




% of Dist. on
Prot. Lands

3.3 %
60.5 %
5.2 %
16.6 %
2.3 %
2.3 %
4.2 %
1.3 %
0.1 %
2.7 %
2.7 %
0.4 %
< 0.1 %

31.9 %
% of Dist. on
All Lands

0.4 %
7.4 %
0.6 %
2.0 %
0.3 %
0.3 %
0.5 %
0.2 %
< 0.1 %
0.1 %
0.3 %
< 0.1 %
87.7 %

3.9 %
This bat has a split range in North Carolina, in the southern Appalachians, and in the sandhills and coastal plain (Webster et al. 1985).

Many C. rafinesquii roosts have been found in old abandoned shacks and barns in wooded areas near permanent water bodies (Webster et al. 1985). Other roosts have been found in the hollows, crevices and bark of trees, and in caves and mines.


Inhabits forested regions. Hibernation in the north and in mountainous regions most often occurs in caves or similar sites; small caves are selected, and the bats stay near the entrance (often within 30 m) and are thought to move about in winter (Handley 1959, Barbour and Davis 1969). In Kentucky, shallow caves or rock shelters in sandstone formations of the Cumberland Plateau often are used (MacGregor 1992). Winter habitat in the south is poorly known. In the Coastal Plain they are suspected to use hollow trees for cold weather, and possibly winter roosts (Clark 1992).

Summer roosts often are in hollow trees, occasionally under loose bark, or in abandoned buildings in or near wooded areas, instead of being restricted to caves. Nursery colonies are rare in caves, but are known to occur in Kentucky and Tennessee (Barbour and Davis 1969). A large nursery colony (87 adults in June of 1985) roosts in abandoned copper mines in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Currie 1992). In the southern portions of the range these bats rarely hibernate in caves, and often roost in buildings year round. In Arkansas they are found in cisterns and wells rather than caves (Harvey 1992b). In the mountains of South Carolina they roost in rock houses, abandoned gold mines and hollow trees (Strayer 1992b). In the coastal plain of North Carolina, they move into old buildings in the summer. They are known to use hollow trees as temporary night roosts between feeding bouts in the summer (Clark 1992). In central Florida, a maternity roost was in an abandoned trailer that had been placed on a site in the early 1980s; it had been occupied for several years by the mid-1990s (Finn 1996).

Dilapidated buildings are inhabited more commonly than are intact occupied structures, and Clark (1987) and Strayer (1992) reported that these bats roost in the darkest parts of such buildings. Others have reported that these bats choose more open and lighted daytime roosts than other kinds of bats (Handley 1959, Barbour and Davis 1969, Harvey 1992). Clark (1987) agreed that in caves and mines this species prefers areas receiving some natural light.

The foraging habitat is primarily mature forest in both upland and lowland areas. In North Carolina and Virginia, foraging habitat for subspecies MACROTIS is mature hardwood floodplain forest; sites along permanent water bodies, especially rivers, are preferred (Clark 1987). It has been suggested that the species began using man-made structures in the coastal plain region only after large old hollow trees became scarce (Currie 1992, Clark 1992).


Natural roost sites include hollow trees and caves, but throughout its range most records of this species are from abandoned buildings. Caves and mines are used by this bat in the upland portions of its range, including North Carolina. In abandoned structures, this bat is found in the darkest portions of the building, prefering windowless rooms such as bathrooms and closets; but in caves, areas receiving some natural light seem preferred. Sites along river systems and other permanent bodies of water nearby old growth forests are preferred. Foraging habitat has not been identified.

Occupied Landcover Map Units:
Code NameDescription NC Natural Heritage Program Equivalent
75 Tidal Swamp Forest Swamp tupelo dominated forest with or without black tupelo and/or cypress trees. Restricted to the tidal zones in the coastal plain. May have inclusions of coastal red cedar woodlands. Tidal cypress - gum swamp
50 Coastal Plain Mixed Bottomland Forests Includes forests dominated by a variety of hardwood species, including sweetgum, cottonwood, red maple. Coastal Plain Bottomland Hardwood (in part), Coastal Plain Levee Forest
49 Coastal Plain Oak Bottomland Forest Bottomland forests dominated by deciduous oak alliances. Oaks represented can include swamp chestnut, cherrybark, willow, and/or overcup oak. Inclusions of loblolly pine temporarily flooded forests occur in patches. Hydrology is temporarily to seasonally flooded. Coastal Plain Bottomland Hardwoods (in part) blackwater subtype, brownwater subtype
30 Cypress-Gum Floodplain Forests Swamps dominated by black or swamp tupelo with or without Taxodium. Seasonally to semi-permanently flooded hydrology. Cypress-Gum Swamps
78 Pond-Cypress - Gum Swamps, Savannas and Lakeshores Cypress dominated swamps and lakeshores. Can include bays dominated by pond cypress or shorelines of coastal plain lakes with a narrow band of cypress. Non-riverine Swamp Forest, Natural Lakeshores (in part)
385 Oak Bottomland Forest and Swamp Forest The swamp chestnut oak, cherrybark oak, shumard oak and sweetgum alliance is one representative. Other alliances are dominated by water, willow, and overcup oaks. Swamp forests can be dominated by sweetgum, red maple, and black gum being dominant. Loblolly can occur in combination with sweetgum and red maple, or with tulip poplar. Includes saturated and semi- to permanently flooded forests in the mountains. Piedmont/Mountain Bottomland Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Swamp Forest
384 Piedmont/Mountain Mixed Bottomland Hardwood Forests Includes temporarily to seasonally forests dominated by hardwood species. Hardwoods include sweetgum, red maple, sycamore which co-occur in a mosaic of bottomland and levee positions. Includes alluvial hardwood forests in the mountains. Hemlock and white pine may occur as inclusions, but are generally mapped separately. Piedmont/Mountain Alluvial Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Levee Forest
228 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Oak and Hardwood Forests Primarily oak dominated forests, white oak is often dominant, with co-dominants including . Also represented by sweetgum and tulip poplar dominated forests. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Basic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
222 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Pine Forests Loblolly dominated forests resulting from succession following clearing. This type occurs on all moisture regimes following disturbance with the exception of the extremely xeric sites. No equivalent
382 Dry Mesic Oak Pine Forests Mixed forests of the coastal plain and piedmont. Includes loblolly pine with white, southern red and/or post oak and loblolly with water oak. On basic sites of the piedmont, eastern red cedar may co-occur with post, black, and blackjack oaks. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Xeric Hard Pan Forest, Chestnut Oak Forest, Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
220 Piedmont Xeric Pine Forests Dry to xeric pine forests dominated by Virginia pine, shortleaf pine or Eastern Red Cedar. Pine Oak Heath
226 Piedmont Xeric Woodlands Generally post and blackjack oak dominated woodlands. White ash and pignut hickory can be found in combination with Eastern red cedar on glades. Xeric Hardpan Forest
20 Coniferous Regeneration Regenerating pine stands. Predominantly loblolly pine, but slash and longleaf stands occur as well. No equivalent
21 Coniferous Cultivated Plantation (natural / planted) Managed pine plantations, densely planted. Most planted stands are loblolly, but slash and longleaf occur as well. No equivalent
51 Deciduous Cultivated Plantation Planted deciduous trees. Includes sweetgum and sycamore plantations. No equivalent
36 Successional Deciduous Forests Regenerating deciduous trees with a shrub stature. Commonly dominated by sweetgum, tulip poplars and maples. No equivalent
180 Agricultural Crop Fields Farm fields used for row crops. No equivalent
205 Agricultural Pasture/Hay and Natural Herbaceous Farm fields used for pasture grass or hay production, as well as old fields dominated by native and exotic grasses. No equivalent
202 Residential Urban Includes vegetation interspersed in residential areas. Includes lawns, mixed species woodlots, and horticultural shrubs. Vegetation accounts for between 20 - 70% of the cover. No equivalent
203 Urban Low-Intensity Developed Highly developed areas with vegetation accounting for < 20% of the cover. No equivalent
204 Urban High-Intensity Developed and Transportation Corridors Highly developed areas including infrastructure such as roads, railroads. Vegetation represents < 20% of the cover. No equivalent
517 Hemlock Floodplain Forest Alluvial forest with hemlock and/or white pine in mountains and western piedmont. Hydrology is generally temporarily to seasonally flooded. Canada Hemlock Forest
522 Northern Hardwoods High Elevation forests including yellow birch, American beech, and yellow buckeye. Includes forests with Hemlock and Yellow Birch. Northern Hardwoods Forest, Boulderfield Forest
525 Appalachian Oak Forest A variety of oak forest types including Black, White, Scarlet Oaks in dry to mesic situations. Includes forests historically co-dominated by American Chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
526 Appalachian Cove Forest Mixed Mesophytic forests of the mountains. Includes tuliptree, basswood, yellow buckeye and surgar maple. This class is mapped to include cove forests dominated or co-dominated by hemlock. Rich Cove Forest, Acidic Cove Forest
527 Appalachian Hemlock Upland hemlock forests of the moutains region. Vary from side slopes to steep slope positions. Canada Hemlock Forest
528 Appalachian Xeric Pine Forest Pine forests and woodlands on xeric sites. A variety of pines, including Virginia, Shortleaf, Eastern White Pine, Table Mountain and Pitch pine. Often small areas of dense pine within a matrix of Xeric Oak-Pine Forests. Pine Oak Heath
529 Appalachian Xeric Mixed Forest Mixed forests with Virginia, Shortleaf, Eastern White Pine, Table Mountain and Pitch pines in combination with xeric oak species. Oaks include, white, Southern Red, black, and rock chestnut. Pine Oak Heath
530 Appalachian Xeric Deciduous Forest Deciduous forests in the mountains dominated by Xeric Oak species. Species include, white, Southern red, black, and rock chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
533 Appalachian Swamp Forest Evergreen and deciduous forests with saturated hydrologies. This class may contain a variety of trees species, including hemlock - red maple, pitch pine, and white pine forests. Swamp Forest-Bog Complex, Southern Appalachian Bog, Southern Appalachian Fen
534 Appalachian Wet Shrubland/ Herbaceous Saturated shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. Often mapped as an inclusion in Appalachian Swamp Forest. Southern Appalachian Bog, Southern Appalachian Fen
View Entire Landcover Legend
Additional Spatial Constraints:
Exclude all area outside of known range.
Exclude salt water habitats.
Schmidly, D. J. 1991. The bats of Texas. Texas A & M Univ. Press, College Station. 188 pp.

Frost, D. R., and R. M. Timm. 1992. Phylogeny of plecotine bats (Chiroptera:"Vespertilionidae"):proposal of a logically consistent taxonomy. Am. Mus. Novitates 3034:1-16.

Harvey, M. J. 1992. Bats of the eastern United States. Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.

Tumlison, R., and M. E. Douglas. 1992. Parsimony analysis and the phylogeny of the plecotine bats (Chiroptera:Vespertilionidae). J. Mamm. 73:276-285.

Jones, C. 1977. Plecotus rafinesquii. American Soc. Mamm., Mammalian Species No. 69. 4 pp.

Lowery, G. H., Jr. 1974. The mammals of Louisiana and its adjacent waters. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge. 565 pp.

Handley, C. O., Jr. 1959. A revision of American bats of the genera Euderma and Plecotus. Proceedings U.S. National Museum 110:95-246.

Barbour, R. W., and W. H. Davis. 1969. Bats of America. The University of Kentucky Press, Lexington, Kentucky.

Clark, M. K. (ed.). 1987. Endangered, threatened, and rare fauna of North Carolina, part I. A re-evaluation of the mammals. Occas. Pap. North Carolina Biol.

Layne, J. N., editor. 1978. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Vol. 1. Mammals. State of Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission. xx + 52 pp.

Hamilton, William J., Jr., and John O. Whitaker, Jr. 1979. Mammals of the eastern United States. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, New York. 346 pp.

Whitaker, J. O., Jr. 1980. The Audubon Society field guide to North American mammals. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 745 pp.

Schwartz, Charles W., and Elizabeth R. Schwartz. 1981. The wild mammals of Missouri. University of Missouri Press, Columbia. 356 pp.

Webster, W. D., J. F. Parnell and W. C. Biggs Jr. 1985. Mammals of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC.

Caire, W., J. D. Tyler, B. P. Glass, and M. A. Mares. Z. Marsh (illustrator). 1989. Mammals of Oklahoma. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. Oklahoma. 567 pp.

Handley, C. O., Jr. 1991. Mammals. Pages 539-616 in K. Terwilliger, coordinator. Virginia's endangered species:proceedings of a symposium. McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, Virginia.

10 March 2005
This data was compiled and/or developed by the North Carolina GAP Analysis Project.

For more information please contact them at:
NC-GAP Analysis Project
Dept. of Zoology, NCSU
Campus Box 7617
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617
(919) 513-2853