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Several in the genus Lasiurus are commonly referred to as "tree bats" because they roost only in tree foliage. The desert red bat is a typical tree bat, which is closely associated with cottonwoods in riparian areas at elevations below 6,500 feet. Especially favored roosts are found where leaves form a dense canopy above and branches do not obstruct the bats' flyway below. Desert red bats are also known to roost in orchards, especially in the Sacramento Valley of California. Despite their bright amber color, these bats are actually rather cryptic, resembling dead leaves when they curl up in their furry tail membranes to sleep.
Like all tree bats, this species is solitary, coming together only to mate and to migrate. Tree bats often give birth to twins, and desert red bats can have litters of up to four pups, though three is the average. These bats typically feed along forest edges, in small clearings, or around street-lights where they prefer moths. It is not known exactly where desert red bats hibernate, though they may burrow into leaf litter or dense grass like their eastern counterparts, and they do move to milder coastal areas in the Pacific Northwest. Although largely undocumented, desert red bats appear to have declined markedly in the West due to the loss of lowland riparian forests.