10 Amazing Bats of Texas to Celebrate Earth Day!
10 Amazing Bats of Texas to Celebrate Earth Day!
Texas is famous for its barbeque, football, and independent attitude. But did you know that Texas also has the highest population of bats in the United States, and is home to the largest colony of bats in the world?
Bat Conservation International attended the Earth Day Texas at Fair Park in Dallas on April 26 and brought four species of live bats! Come visit us to learn more about our bat neighbors and say hello!
To celebrate here are just 10 of the amazing species’ of bats Texas has the pleasure of hosting.
1. Mexican long-tongued bat
Tequila and mezcal, Mexican staple liquors, are depended upon bats for production. Both liquors are made from the agave plant, a plant dependent on bats for pollination. The Mexican long-tongued bat (Choeronycteris mexicana) migrates along corridors of agave plants from Central America to the southern United States, pollinating our future tequila along the way.
2. Mexican long-nosed bat
Same as the Mexican long-tongued bat, the Mexican long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis)is a nectarivore. Texas is at the northernmost part of the species range, but they are still known to come in to the state. This bat is a major pollinator of many night-blooming cactus flowers that have a more mild smell and coloration than their day-blooming counterparts. The Mexican long-nosed and long-tongued bats both have very long tongues that allow them to reach into the bottom of flowers and feed on the nectar at the bottom.
3. Eastern red bat
Some flying predators snatch their prey up in their mouths while in the air, others prefer to do it with more flair. The eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis) captures its insect prey by somersaulting in the air and closing its tail and wings around its prey. The eastern red bat then reaches down to the formed pouch and eats the insect before flying on again! This aerial ace prefers living in forested areas and mostly feed on moths and beetles.
4. Hoary bat
The hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) is one of the most widely distributed bats in the United States. They are found as far north as Canada and there is even a related species of hoary bat in Hawaii! The hoary bat is migratory, with male and females exhibiting different migratory patterns. The hoary bat is insectivorous and is known to eat flies, beetles, grasshoppers, and even dragonflies!
5. Southern yellow bat
The southern yellow bat (Lasiurus ega) is a migratory bat that inhabits the southern Texas plains and the gulf coastal plains of Texas. The southern yellow bat is an insectivore, and usually begins hunting right after sundown. The bat uses echolocation to find and capture its prey. This species likes to live in wooded areas, areas resembling dead leaves, and areas with palm trees. Some believe that this bat is expanding its range in the US because of ornamental palm tree use.
6. Evening bat
The evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis) is a small bat that lives in eastern Texas. The evening bat inhabits a variety of different roosts depending on the time of the year, but generally prefers to roost in trees. The evening bat is also an insectivorous bat, and feed on flies, moths, and a variety of other insects.
7. Rafinesque’s Big-Eared Bat
Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) is a medium-sized bat with very large ears that is named after 19th century French wildlife biologist C.S. Rafinesque. The bat’s ears droop over its shoulders when not in flight, and pop back up when it takes off. The bat is mostly found in forested areas of the southern United States, with populations living in the eastern-most part of Texas. This species will roost in large hollows or crevices that do not receive direct sunlight, and has been seen roosting out in the open on concrete bridges.
8. Big brown bat
There are two different subspecies of big brown bats in Texas, distinctly separated between the east (Eptesicus fuscus fuscus) and the west (Eptesicus fuscus pallidus) sides of the state. The big brown bat, like its name suggests, is a medium to large sized bat, with a broad nose and wings. The species likes to live in hollow spaces in buildings, as they are usually safer and warmer than living out in the open.
9. Silver-haired bat
The silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) is a medium-sized bat with black hair and frosted white tips. The silver-haired bat inhabits most of the United States and into areas of Canada, and can be found almost all over the state of Texas. Along with the eastern red bat and the hoary bat, the silver-haired bat is one of the bats most commonly killed by wind turbines.
10. Mexican free-tailed bat
The Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) is an insectivorous bat that has a range that extends throughout much of the Americas. A colony of over 1.5 million bats lives under the Congressional Avenue bridge in Austin, Texas every summer, less than a mile away from the State Capitol Building. Bracken Cave, located on the suburban fringe of San Antonio, TX is also home to the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in the world. Every year from March to October millions of bats make Bracken Cave their home. The Mexican Free-Tailed bat is the official state bat of both Texas and Oklahoma.
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