Mexican Free-tailed Bat

The Mexican Free-tailed Bat is a medium sized bat with dark brown to grey fur. They have large forward pointing ears and wrinkled lips. The easiest way to identify this bat is to look for their long tail, which unlike most bats, extends freely beyond the tail membrane. They are one of the fastest flying species of bats, with recorded speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Tadarida brasiliensis
CLASSIFICATION
Mammal
LIFE SPAN
8-11 Years
SIZE
3.5-4.3 ” | 0.02-0.03 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Priority Species
  • State Protected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Non-Game
GAME TYPE
None
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

Mexican Free-tailed Bats will find roost sites near water and mostly in caves, but will also find refuge in mines, bridges, and even tunnels and abandoned buildings. The largest known summer colony in Nevada consists of approximately 100,000 bats that have established their summer home under a bridge that crosses the Truckee River in Reno.

  • Cliffs and Canyons
  • Mines
  • Mojave desert

Threats

  • Habitat Loss

Natural History

Mexican Free-tailed Bats are opportunistic insectivores which means that they will eat just about any flying insect that they can catch including moths, flying ants, beetles, and mayflies. These hungry predators will eat the equivalent of their body weight in insects in a single night! This means that some of those large colonies might consume 250 tons of flying insects over that period. This pest control is an enormous benefit for agricultural crops. Sometimes Mexican free-tailed bats become food for other animals such as hawks, owls, raccoons, and even snakes. Their speed and maneuverability help them avoid predators and catch prey. Mexican free-tailed bats roost in very large numbers making their populations susceptible to even small disturbances. These family-oriented mammals form colonies larger than any other warm-blooded animal in the world. Some roosts are known to contain millions of bats! Female bats will congregate in maternity roosts to give birth and care for their young, called “pups.” Like other bats, they have one pup per year. After their pups are born it takes about four to seven weeks until they become independent from their mother and are no longer feeding from their mother’s milk.

Fun Facts

These bats are fast and have been clocked flying at 60 miles per hour in the right tail winds, and at altitudes over 10,000 feet – higher than any other bat! These bats are the most widely distributed bat in North and South America!