A couple weeks back, I wrote a blog on the Bracken Cave conservation effort that’s been organized around keeping Bracken’s enormous colony of Mexican free-tailed bats safe.
Working on that got me both thinking about and reading up on the Mexican free-tails. The research and reminiscing led me to a mini-epiphany: “Free-Tails are awesome! Someone should dedicate a blog post to them. Wait… I can dedicate a blog post for them! It could be the first in a series of bat profiles!”
And this is the realization of that epiphany. So enjoy and stay tuned for future installations.
About the Mexican Free-Tailed Bat
Mexican free-tailed bats (MFT; alternately known as the “Brazilian free-tailed” bat) are one of North and South America’s most common bats, and one of the most easily identified. As their name suggests, Mexican free-tailed bats both enjoy warmer, more southern climes, and have a free-hanging tail.
They are, in fact, one of the most widely dispersed and common mammals in the Western hemisphere. Their population ranges pervasively from the southernmost tip of Argentina to the southernmost border of Oregon. And as mentioned a few weeks back, the Bracken Cave MFT colony in Texas is the largest accumulation of mammals in the world, with a population that’s been variably cited between 20 million and 50 million members.
They’re definitely the most common bat in the southern United States – nine times out of ten, a bat exclusion we’re contacted for in the south is going to involve MFTs. Speaking of which, if you live in the South, this is the time of year when they’re most active, so keep an eye out.
However, any inconvenience caused by free-tails seeking out human dwellings is far outweighed by their benefit. MFTs are the fastest bat on the planet, reaching flight speeds of over 60 mph, and they’re prodigious eaters too.
The impact on an area’s crop-destroying insect population made by 40 million Mexican free-tails, all hunting on the same night, is enormous. For perspective, picture a cloud of bug-seeking missiles 30 miles long and 20 miles wide.
The world’s biggest urban bat colony (a paltry 1.5 million) is a collection of MFTs that makes its home under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Every night during the summer, they take flight to collectively consume between 10,000 – 20,000 pounds of insects, including mosquitoes and agricultural pests. The Bracken Cave free-tails enjoy something like 240 tons of insects a night. It’s estimated that they save cotton farmers in south central Texas alone more than $740,000 a year.
So, Southerners, the next time you enjoy a mosquito bite-free night out, or buy an inexpensive cotton T-shirt, thank a Mexican free-tailed bat. And if you find that a group of these insect slaying machines has decided to share your home, give us a call and we’ll safely and humanely relocate them, ensuring that they’ll hunt another night.
Your local bat removal expert,