Mammals of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Tricolored Bat - Perimyotis subflavus
Vespertilionidae Members:
Search Common:                 Search Scientific:

Photo by: Mark Shields
Distribution In NC, it occurs essentially throughout the state, perhaps found in all 100 counties.

Occurs throughout the eastern half of the United States and southeastern Canada, to the Gulf Coast.
Abundance Declining, especially in the mountains, due to White Nose Syndrome. Formerly common to locally very common in the mountains, but now apparently uncommon; in the Piedmont, seemingly fairly common, but probably uncommon in the foothills. In the Coastal Plain, uncommon to likely fairly common, but can be locally very common there. Perhaps absent to rare near the immediate coast and the Outer Banks. Note that considerable mist-netting efforts have been made for bats in the Coastal Plain, as compared with the Piedmont and parts of the mountains. Thus, the spotty range in the Piedmont (on the map) might be related to a scarcity of mist-netting efforts there as compared with the Coastal Plain.
Seasonal Occurrence Not truly migratory, but moves to caves and mines during the late fall and winter, at least in the mountains and foothills. Hibernates in winter.
Habitat A wide array of habitats, from upland to lowland forests/woods, to groves, to farmyards, to towns, though rarely in heavily populated areas. Roosts in the mountains and foothills in caves and mines during the colder months, but in most areas, they roost in vegetation in trees, or at times in old buildings.
Behavior Emerges in the evening to forage over open water, fields, or wooded areas, generally in slow flight; as this is our smallest bat, its flight is as slow as any others. Though it often roosts singly, it can occur in sizable colonies, at least in winter roosts in caves.
Comments The species has declined precipitously in the mountains in the last decade, as it is susceptible to White Nose Syndrome. Thankfully, the species is widespread in the state, and as it is not generally local in occurrence, it is not in imminent danger of extirpation over most of the state. However, in recent years the species has been tracked as Significantly Rare by the N.C. Natural Heritage Program. And, in 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed it for Federal Endangered status (PE), and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission followed with a State Endangered status. On the other hand, NatureServe has moved the Global Rank from an alarming G2G3 to a less rare G3G4, which goes against the Federal and State agencies considering the species to be in very serious trouble.

The common and scientific names have both changed in the past few years, from Eastern Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus subflavus) to Tricolored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus) in the past few years.
Origin Native
NC List Official
State Rank S3
State Status E
Global Rank G3G4
Federal Status PE
subspecies Perimyotis subflavus subflavus
other_comName Eastern Pipistrelle
synonym Pipistrellus subflavus
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all database records for species in that county.