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Southern Yellow Bat

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, 14 of which live in Missouri. Of these, 9 are commonly found in caves.

Southern Yellow Bat

Southern Yellow Bat

A strong flier with yellowish fur, the southern yellow bat is a lowland species, adapted to both dry and wet habitats. It roosts in trees, particularly palms. These bats are often seen hunting over water, including over swimming pools. Very few species of bats have more than one or two young at a time, and most have just two nipples, but some bats in the genus Lasiurus have four nipples and can have triplets or quadruplets. Southern yellow bats most often have triplets. The young bats nurse for about two months before they are able to fly and forage for themselves.

This is a neotropical species that reaches the United States in southern California, southern Arizona, and southern Texas where it has been recorded from Cameron, Kleberg, and Nueces Counties. Its range extends southward east of the Andes to Uruguay and northeastern Argentina.

Habits: Like other members of the genus Lasiurus, southern yellow bats are associated with trees which can provide them with daytime roosting sites. In the vicinity of Brownsville, numbers of them inhabit a natural grove of palm trees (Sabal texana). L. ega may be a permanent resident in that area because they have been captured there in six different months of the year, including December. These bats may be increasing their range in Texas due to the increased usage of ornamental palm trees in landscaping.These bats feed on insects which they probably capture in flight. Bats observed in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi started foraging about dusk. Nets stretched over ponds at which bats came to drink did not catch any L. ega until about 2 hours after darkness.

Southern Yellow Bat

Southern Yellow Bat

Stomachs of those captured at that time were crammed with insect remains.The breeding season is in late winter in the South Texas area. Six females captured in late April all carried embryos; one with two very small (3 mm crown-rump length) embryos; the other five with three embryos each, the crown-rump length of which ranged from 11 to 14 mm. Of 11 females captured on June 8, only one was pregnant. She contained four embryos whose average crown-rump length was 25 mm. Nine of the other 10 females were lactating. Three females captured in June in the neighboring Mexican state of Tamaulipas were also lactating.

Re-Production: Normal litter size is 2 or 3 young, although individuals have been known to have single young. Estimated gestation period is 80-90 days. Mating occurs in the late summer or fall with sperm being stored overwinter in the uterus. Ovulation and fertilization occur in the spring with births occurring from late May to early July.

These bats are generally solitary, but females of some related species are known to form small nursery colonies and form flocks of several hundred for migration. Males do not generally congregate in summer, but may congregate during winter.

Southern Yellow Bat

Southern Yellow Bat

Conservation Status: Temperate North American bats are now threatened by a fungal disease called “white-nose syndrome.” This disease has devastated eastern North American bat populations at hibernation sites since 2007. The fungus, Geomyces destructans, grows best in cold, humid conditions that are typical of many bat hibernacula. The fungus grows on, and in some cases invades, the bodies of hibernating bats and seems to result in disturbance from hibernation, causing a debilitating loss of important metabolic resources and mass deaths. Mortality rates at some hibernation sites have been as high as 90%. While there are currently no reports of Lasiurus ega mortalities as a result of white-nose syndrome, the disease continues to expand its range in North America.

These bats are often lost youngsters just developing their flying skills. A bat flying around in a room may appear to be diving at people. In fact, it is merely swooping downward to regain flight speed and control which were lost when it slowed to make the turn at the end of the room.Opening an outside door, or window and screen, will allow the bat to exit. However, if it lands, a jar or other container can be placed over the bat and a piece of heavy paper or cardboard slid under the mouth of the container, trapping the bat inside. The bat can then be released outside away from children and pets. Never attempt to touch bats with your bare hands.

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