Authors: Clint N. Morgan, Loren K. Ammerman, Krysta D. Demere, Jeffrey B. Doty, Yoshinori J. Nakazawa, and Matthew R. Mauldin


Bats are the second most speciose lineage of mammals with more than 1,300 recognized species. Overall, bats are extremely ecologically and morphologically diverse, making them of interest to a wide variety of biologists. Bats are also known reservoirs for an assortment of zoonotic diseases, including rabies, for which they are commonly tested if identified as sick, behaving abnormally, or in instances where there has been a significant human exposure. In these cases, proper identification of bat species is important to public health experts as it will inform future testing procedures and management practices, as well as broaden our understanding of rabies virus bat variant distributions and disease ecology. Despite the multiple disciplines interested in bats, no key has been developed which includes all species found within the United States. For this reason, a dichotomous key and bat identification guide, designed to differentiate bats to species level, has been developed. This document can be used by people with a variety of backgrounds to morphologically identify bats quickly and accurately using only a scale, a ruler, and attention to detail.