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Bats are mammals, and members of the order Chiroptera. They are the second largest order of mammals in number of species. There are about 1000 species of bats are commonly found in caves.
Mexican Free-Tailed Bat
The Mexican free tailed bat is medium sized, weighing about 15 grams (1/2 ounce) and the width is about 3.5 inches. The ears are set fairly far apart to aid with echolocation. The Mexican free tailed bat is usually dark brown or black and covered in fur. Roughly a third of its tail extends beyond the legs and tail membrane â€“ hence the name. Mexican free tailed bats have short, strong feet with bristles on the toe of each foot that aid in grooming.
Habits: Mexican free tailed bats live in caves. They can be found in the Western and Southern United States as well as Chile, Argentina, and the West Indies. They migrate south each winter to warmer locations. Mexican free tailed bats live in large colonies and feed mostly on cotton bollworm moths, which are considered an environmental pest. Bats are closely linked to their young, leaving the cave to bring back food for their offspring. Mother bats locate their young by recognizing their individual â€ścryâ€ť and smell. Mexican free tailed bats are incredibly important in the control of pest and insect populations.
Life cycle: Female Mexican free tailed bats typically produce one young at a time, and one litter per year, with gestation periods lasting anywhere from 50 to 120 days. The young learn how to fly in roughly 5 weeks. Mothers hunt food for the young and their hunting range can be up to almost 50 miles, depending on food availability. Male and female bats tend to remain separate in summer. Mating occurs in early fall. However, in a process known as delayed fertilization, sperm is stored in the femalesâ€™ reproductive system until the following spring when ovulation occurs and embryonic development begins. The young bats, known as pups, are born in spring. The newborn bats are blind and furless and are nursed by their mother until they are 6 weeks old. Young bats begin to fly by the time they are a month old.
Beetles are often a distant third food item in myotine bats, but for Tadarida in Puerto Rico they formed less of the volume than did homopterans and hemipterans. Since many bats night-roosted in the tunnel,these low values for coleopterans are probably not the result of a bias favoring insects consumed in pre-dawn foraging.Although a few beetles were eaten, and ants due to their swarming behavior. Significant differences in percent composition among major foods.
Even though dipterans are consumed by Tadarida year-round, often in large numbers, seasonal variations would have produced a wrong picture of Tadarida â€™s feeding habits if, for instance, the study had been conducted in August and September. Texan populations of Tadarida feed on lepidopterans, coleopterans, hymenopterans, and dipterans in decreasing order of importance . This disparity between the diet of insular and continental populations of Tadarida may reflect differences in prey availability and trade-offs related to the composition of feeding guilds. The assemblage of insectivorous bats in the Antilles includes some exceedingly abundant mormoopid bats which feed mostly on coleopterans, lepidopterans, or both, and are active early after or even before sunset . In addition to the mormoopids, the coleopteran-lepidopteran feeder Molossus molossus is ubiquitous throughout the island.
Mexican Free-Tailed Bat
The Mexican Free-tailed Bat roosts in caves, hollow trees, buildings, and rock crevices. It is a migratory species in the West, but populations in the southeastern United States are known to hibernate in unoccupied buildings or other suitable sites. This species often shares roosting sites with other bat species such as the Big Brown Bat, the Evening Bat, and the Southeastern Myotis. The Mexican Free-tailed Bat leaves its roost at sunset to begin foraging. Its flight is straight and rapid, more than 40.2 km/hr (25 mi/hr). This species has been recorded at altitudes in excess of 3048 m (10,000 ft) and with a tailwind at speeds of 96.6 km/hr (60 mi/hr). Moths, beetles, and flying ants make up the bulk of its diet.
Predators of the Free-tailed Bat include the Great Horned Owl and various other raptors such as the Barn Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooperâ€™s Hawk, American Kestrel, and Mississippi Kite, mammals such as the Raccoon, Opossum, and Striped Skunk, and reptiles such as the Rat Snakes. The Mexican Free-tailed Bat has one of the highest rates of rabies disease recorded among bat species. However, rabid skunks, foxes, and raccoons pose a greater threat to humans than do bats. In fact the odds of contracting rabies disease from a bat have been estimated at about 1 in 100 million.
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