About the Mexican long-nosed bat

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HABITAT

  • The Mexican long-nosed bat lives in desert scrub and open forest habitats.
  • During the day, the bat avoids the sun by roosting in caves, tree hollows, and mines.

RANGE

  • This bat species’ range stretches from central Mexico north into a small portion of West Texas.
  • A few Mexican long-nosed bats have been found in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.
  • The Mexican long-nosed bat can only be found in the United States from June to August. It migrates south to Mexico, where it spends the majority of its time in order to avoid cold weather.

DIET

  • The Mexican long-nosed bat eats nectar and pollen from desert plants. It is especially fond of agave, a desert plant that is often confused with cacti.
  • Its diet makes the Mexican long-nosed bat an important pollinator. It distributes pollen, aiding the process of fertilization, as it feeds on different flowers.
  • The bat is a very strong flier. Just like a hummingbird, the Mexican long-nosed bat is able to hover in front of a flower while it sticks its long tongue into the flower to sip nectar.
  • On occasion, it may eat fruit or insects.

DID YOU KNOW???

  • The bats and their food plants have become so highly dependent on one another that the loss of the bats could mean the loss of the entire desert ecosystem. This dependence on bats is known as chiropterophily.

REPRODUCTION

  • Mothers give birth to bat pups from April to June. The mother usually only gives birth to one pup per season, but sometimes litters may have two pups.
  • The pups nurse for one month and can fly when they are about five weeks old.
  • Mexican long-nosed bat births take place in Central Mexico, but the pups migrate with their mothers to the northern part of the species’ range for the summer months.

BEHAVIOR

  • Sightings of Mexican long-nosed bats are rare. They may occasionally be found at hummingbird feeders during the night.
  • These bats often roost in large colonies of thousands of individuals.
  • Few adult males have been found in the Mexican long-nosed bat’s northern range. It is believed that adult males and females separate geographically for the majority of the year and come together from late October to December to breed.
  • Migrations often correspond with the blooming season of flowers within the bat’s range.

APPEARANCE

  • Large in comparison to other bat species, the Mexican long-nosed bat measures 2.75-3.75 inches in length.
  • The bat’s extremely short tail is usually not visible to the naked eye.
  • The Mexican long-nosed bat’s fur is pale brown to gray. Its wings are black.

STATUS

  • The Mexican long-nosed bat is listed as endangered at both the state and federal levels.

THREATS

  • Habitat alteration
    • Since these bats often roost in large colonies, the disruption of one habitat can affect thousands of individuals all at once.
    • The Mexican long-nosed bat’s habitat in Big Bend National Park is protected, but in Mexico, where the bats spend the majority of their time, roosting sites are unprotected and vulnerable to disruption.
  • Loss of food source
    • In Mexico, agave is harvested in large numbers to make a number of different products. The practice used to harvest agaves does not allow the plants to grow back.
    • Wildfires and the clearing of rangeland may also affect the Mexican long-nosed bat’s food supply.
  • Killing by humans
    • Vampire bats live in Mexico and have given all bat species a bad reputation. Ranchers may be prone to assume all bats are vampire bats and kill all bats they encounter.

DID YOU KNOW???

  • Big Bend National Park in Texas was the site of the discovery in 1937 of the first Mexican long-nosed bat.

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