Annual skeletal changes in the little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus lucifugus, with particular reference to pregnancy and lactation

Am J Anat. 1987 Apr;178(4):410-20. doi: 10.1002/aja.1001780410.


Studies of bone from summer-active little brown bats, Myotis lucifugus lucifugus, have demonstrated sex differences in the renewal of skeletal mineral reserves following spring-arousal from hibernation. Patterns of bone remodeling in both sexes of bats indicate that new bone formation does not occur during hibernation: All new bone formation occurs during the summer-active season. Results show that a short period of time elapses after hibernation before the initial demands of a large fetus and rapidly growing neonate are expressed on maternal skeletal reserves. Bone loss in summer-active females was associated with pregnancy and lactation, whereas summer-active males did not show evidence of bone loss but, instead, uninterrupted bone accretion throughout the summer-active season. Osteoclasts and bone-forming osteoblasts, absent during the hibernation period, reappeared on bone surfaces following spring-arousal from hibernation. There was no apparent increase in osteoclast numbers or activity during lactation but resorption cavities were found in deep cortical lamellae distant from bone surfaces. The increase in bone resorption in lactating bats appeared to be by osteocytic osteolysis, suggesting that it might be a significant mechanism of bone/calcium regulation in this hibernating mammal throughout the year.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Calcium / blood
  • Chiroptera / blood
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humerus / diagnostic imaging
  • Humerus / physiology
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Mandible / diagnostic imaging
  • Phosphorus / blood
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Radiography
  • Seasons*
  • Specific Gravity


  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium