Myotis mystacinus is a western Palaearctic species, occurring in western and central Europe, southern parts of Scandinavia, Britain, Morocco, northern parts of eastern Europe, western parts of the Caucasus, the Urals and is the smallest member of the Myotis genus in Europe (Schober & Grimmberger, 1989). It has a very similar appearance to Brandt’s bat (Myotis brandtii), which has only been separated from the whiskered bat since as recently as 1970 (Macdonald & Tattersall, 2001). Both species have long fur but the whiskered bat is generally darker in colour with grey-brown dorsal fur and either dark or light grey ventral fur, its nose, ears & wing membrane are a blackish-brown colour (Schober & Grimmberger, 1989). The frequencies used by M. mystacinus for echolocation lie between 34-102 kHz, have most energy at 53 kHz and have an average duration of 3.0 ms (Parsons & Jones, 2000); (Obrist et al, 2004).
Frequently found to occur in gardens, villages and parks, typically roosting in houses (Schober & Grimmberger, 1989). Whiskered bat summer roosts are often in buildings, loft spaces, houses and in bat boxes. Hibernation occurs in caves, cellars and tunnels where they tend to hang in relatively exposed sites, whereas Brandt’s bats tend to squeeze into smaller crevices. They emerge at early dusk, with a rapid, weaving flight and hunt exclusively near inland waters feeding on non-aquatic flying insects, such as mosquitoes, midges, beetles, moths, and dragonflies. Whiskered bats are known to live to a maximum of 19 years (Schober & Grimmberger, 1989), but the average is probably closer to four or five years of age (Altringham, 1996).
- Schober W. & Grimmberger, E. 1989. A guide to the bats of Britain and Europe. Hamlyn, London.
- Macdonald, D.W. & Tattersall, F.T. 2001. Britain’s Mammals: The Challenge for Conservation. The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford University, Oxford.
- Parsons, S. & Jones, G.2000. Acoustic identification of twelve species of echolocating bat by discriminant function analysis and artificial neural networks. J Exp Biol., 203: 2641-2656.
- Obrist, M.K., Boesch, R. & Flückiger, P.F. 2004. Variability in echolocation call design of 26 Swiss bat species: Consequences, limits and options for automated field identification with a synergic pattern recognition approach. Mammalia., 68 (4): 307-32.
- Altringham, J.D.1996. Bats: Biology and Behaviour. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Compiled by David Mallaburn