Tadarida brasiliensis (Brazilian Free-tailed Bat)

Weight: 11-15 grams

Wingspan: 29-35 centimeters


Southern United States and southward through Mexico and Central America into northern South America. It also occurs on islands of the Caribbean.

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Ecology and Behavior:

Habitat of Brazilian free-tailed bats differs in various parts of the United States. In the Southwest, they primarily are cave bats that migrate to Mexico to winter. About 20,000,-000 bats of this species occur in one cave near San Antonio, Texas; this is the largest con-centra-tion of mammals in the world. In the Southeast, this species does not occur in caves, it is present only in man-made struc-tures, it does not migrate great distances (if at all), and few colonies larger than a few hundred individuals are known. They often select hot attics and caves as roosts; babies seem to be able to tolerate higher temperatures than adults. High temperatures in roosts are essential for rapid growth of young bats; apparently, the larger the colony, the less the energy expenditure per bat to maintain a given temperature.

Food Habits:

This species usually feeds on small moths and beetles.

Reproduction and Longevity:

One baby is born in late spring or early summer. Birth occurs with the mother hanging head downward. Passage of the baby through the birth canal requires about 90 seconds. Newborn are hairless, but have all their milk teeth. Mothers can locate their own baby among the thousands of babies in a colony.

Status of Populations:

Common throughout most of its range, but only locally common in much of the southeastern United States.

Text, in its original form, provided by T. L. Best, M. J. Harvey, and J. S. Altenbach. Printed spectrographs provided by M. J. O'Farrell. Distribution maps, call descriptions, and AnaMusic sound clips produced by W. L. Gannon. Accounts assembled by T. C. Sanchez-Brown.