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The Mexican free-tailed bat, (Tadarida brasiliensis,) is Texas's Flying Mammal, adopted on May 25, 1995 when Governor George W. Bush
signed Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 95. A medium sized bat. Their bodies are about 9 centimeters in length, and they weigh about 15 grams. Their
ears are wide and set apart to help them find prey with echolocation. Its fur color varies from dark brown to gray.
A member of the Molossidae family, the Brazilian free-tailed bat has the characteristic mouse-like tail protruding beyond the flight membrane stretched between its hind legs. Relatively plain when compared to many bats, this species has brown fur, large ears that are nearly square, and a strongly wrinkled upper lip. However, it is superbly adapted to its aerial lifestyle, having long, narrow wings with pointed tips to enable very fast flight, and long hairs on the toes to judge flight speed and turbulence. The hind legs are short and powerful, making this bat an excellent climber.
Also known as guano bat, house bat, Brazilian free-tailed bat.
Mexican free-tailed bats occupy a wide variety of habitats, ranging from desert communities through pinion-juniper woodland and pine-oak forests at elevations from sea level to 9,000 feet or more. The largest US populations of free-tailed bats live in the West, with the densest concentrations found in Texas where they form maternity colonies numbering in the millions. They are found throughout Mexico and most of the western and southern US The largest colony is found at Bracken Cave, north of San Antonio, Texas, with nearly 20 million bats.
The largest maternity colonies are formed in
limestone caves, abandoned mines, under bridges, and in buildings, but smaller colonies also have been found in hollow trees. It is estimated that
100-million Mexican free-tailed bats come to Central Texas each year to raise their young. Nursing females require large quantities of insects that
are high in fat, which they obtain by consuming egg-laden moths. The 100 million free-tailed bats living in Central Texas caves consume approximately
1,000 tons of insects nightly, a large proportion of which are agricultural pests. Researchers using Doppler weather radar watch emerging bats ascend
to altitudes of 1,000-10,000 feet to feed on migrating cotton boll worm moths, army cut-worm moths, and other costly agricultural pests that migrate
north from Mexico. The bats of Bracken Cave can eat up to 250 tons of insects per night!
This species is very important for the control of pest-insect populations. But its populations have fallen because of the use of pesticides and the destruction of their roosting caves.
When baby free-tail bats are born, their mothers leave them behind in the cave while they go out to hunt insects. You would expect that a bat-mother would have trouble locating her own baby (called a pup) among millions of other noisy pups. But it only takes her a few minutes to do so. She remembers where she left her pup, and recognizes its "cry" and smell.
The Mexican free-tailed bat became the official flying mammal of the State of Texas when Governor George W. Bush signed Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 95 on May 25, 1995.
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
S.C.R. No. 95
WHEREAS, The largest concentration of Mexican free-tailed bats in the world exists at Bracken Cave in Comal County; and
WHEREAS, This particular cave in Texas is known as a summertime nursery cave for a large population of migratory Mexican free-tailed bats whose numbers may exceed 20 million; and
WHEREAS, Mother bats give birth to a single pup in June or early July; at night each mother travels long distances to find enough food, consuming approximately her own body weight in insects; and
WHEREAS, At Bracken Cave, the 20 million bats there devour 250 tons of insects; throughout the summer the number of insects including mosquitos and crop pests disposed of is immeasurable; all of this is accomplished without the use of pesticides; and
WHEREAS, Increasingly, the importance of bats in a healthy ecosystem is being appreciated and protected; this is especially true in Texas; and
WHEREAS, Bat Conservation International is an organization with headquarters in Austin that is dedicated to educating the public about bats and conservation of the species; its members are interested in having the Mexican free-tailed bat recognized as the "Official Flying Mammal" of the State of Texas; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the 74th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby declare the Mexican free-tailed bat the "Official Flying Mammal" of the State of Texas; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution be prepared for Bat Conservation International as an expression of the high regard of the Legislature of the State of Texas.
Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 95, 74th Legislature, Regular Session (1995)
Because the Mexican free-tailed bat was adopted as the official flying mammal of the State of Texas by concurrent resolution, it is not listed in the Texas Statutes.
Taxonomic Hierarchy: Mexican Free-tailed Bat
Species: T. brasiliensis