Tadarida brasilensis
©Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International

Mexican Free-tailed Bat

Tadarida brasilensis

Description: Medium-sized bat, body length of 3 1/2 to 4 3/8", with a 12 1/2" wingspan. Fur dark brown or grayish above, paler below. Has a naked tail extending well past edge of tail membrane. Little wrinkled upper lip.

Range: Across southern U.S., all the way down to Argentina and Chile.

Habitat: Lives in caves, buildings, culverts, under bridges.

Diet: Moths, ants, beetles, leafhoppers.

Behavior: This bat forms huge colonies, the largest being Bracken Cave in Texas, with 30 million bats. The spectacular emergences from these colonies have become tourist attractions in parts of Texas. The colonies are also a major form of agricultural pest control, consuming literally tons of insects each night. It's been estimated that the bats of Bracken Cave alone can eat 250 tons of insects in a single night. Fast fliers, they head up high in the sky to feed on flocks of migrating moths, saving crops from millions of corn rootworms each year. Each female bears a single pup in June.

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Bats Of San Diego County