Mexican Free-tailed Bat

Oklahoma State Flying Mammal

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Mexican free-tailed bat in flight

Mexican free-tailed bat in flight; public domain photo by Ron Groves / Encyclopedia of Life.

Mexican Free-tailed Bat

Oklahoma designated the Mexican free-tailed bat as the official state flying mammal in 2006. State Representative Jeff Hickman (one of the bill's sponsors) explained that the Mexican free-tailed bat flies to Oklahoma to breed and then flies back to its indigenous Mexico. He said, "Texas also has the Mexican free-tailed bat as its official flying mammal but the only thing it does in Texas is leave a few droppings on its way to Oklahoma."

Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) live in caves in the southern US, Central and South America. Their colonies are the largest congregations of mammals in the world. The largest colony found in Texas (near San Antonio) has nearly 20 million bats, which eat around 250 tons of insects per night! Flights like the one pictured above may travel hundreds of miles and fly to an altitude of 3,000 meters to feed on insects at night.

Bats are intelligent, unique mammals facing multiple threats of ignorance, suspicion, poisoning, roost destruction, habitat loss, and over-exploitation.

Bats are the only true flying mammal and are unquestioned champions of aeronautics; our own distant relative, the bones of a bat's wings are essentially the same design as those in human arms and hands (having a thumb and four fingers). The brain of a "flying fox" has more in common with a primate than a rodent.

Oklahoma

Images

Mexican free-tailed bat at rest; photo by USFWS/Ann Froschauer on Flickr (use permitted with attribution).

Mexican free-tailed bat at rest

Videos

Bat Caves of Texas - Texas Parks and Wildlife [Official]