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Species Description

Brazilian Free-tailed Bat

Tadarida brasiliensis


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Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Chiroptera
Family: Molossidae

Description

The short, velvety fur is brownish gray. Some individuals may have patches of white fur anywhere on the body. Body, 8.8 - 10.3 cm (3.5 - 4.1 in) in total length. As the name implies, the posterior portion of the tail extends beyond the membrane that connects between the tail and hind legs. Hair on the feet extends well beyond the tips of the claws.

Life Cycle

Mating occurs in February and March. Females then form large "maternity colonies." In June, each female gives birth to a single offspring. The young bats are able to fly in about 5 weeks, which is later than most other members of the Family Vespertilionidae.

Natural History

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, Cooper'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.

Range

Brazilian Free-tailed Bat Region Map The Mexican Free-tailed Bat has a southern distribution in the United States, ranging from South Carolina west through northern California to southern Nebraska. In the state of Texas, this species forms the largest bat colonies in North America. The largest colony has an estimated 20 million individuals. The species may occur throughout Georgia, but its abundance in the southeastern United States is not well documented.

Conservation Status

The Mexican Free-tailed Bat may have stable populations within Georgia, but it is not documented at this time.

Similar Species

All other bats in Georgia have a membrane between the hind legs and the full length of the tail.