Lesser Long-Nosed Bat - Illustration by George Maleski

Lesser Long-Nosed Bat

Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae


The lesser long-nosed bat is a medium sized bat. Adults have yellow-brown or gray fur above, and rusty brown fur below. It has a very minute tail, small ears, and a triangular noseleaf jutting from the end of its nose.

In the United States, lesser long-nosed bats are typically found in the desert scrub habitat. Roosting occurs in caves, abandoned buildings and mines which are usually located at the base of mountains where food sources are present.

Historically, the lesser long-nosed bat ranged from central Arizona and southwest New Mexico through much of Mexico and El Salvador. Currently, the bat ranges from the Picacho and Agua Dulce Mountains in Arizona to southwestern New Mexico, and includes the coasts of Mexico. It is a migratory species that spends summers in Arizona and New Mexico.

The lesser long-nosed bat is one of the three North American bats that feeds almost exclusively on fruit and nectar from night-blooming columnar cacti such as saguaro and organ pipe. Agave flowers also play a principal role in the bat's diet. By eating the nectar, pollen, and fruit of these species of plants, the bat is an important pollinator.

The population ecology of the lesser long-nosed bat is not well studied. In Arizona and Sonora, female bats give birth during the month of May. Females join a maternity roost where pups are born. From birth, the pups have well-developed feet that allow it to hang in the roost while the mothers leave to feed.

On August 30, 1988, the lesser long-nosed bat was listed as endangered throughout Mexico and Arizona. A recovery plan is approved for the bat.

Lesser long-nosed bat in Pima County:
Much of Leptonycteris curasoae yerbavuenae range occurs in Pima County including several major maternity roosts. The bat is a "keystone mutualist" because of its role as a pollinator. Without the bats to pollinate numerous species of cacti and agave, many fear the desert ecosystem would begin to decline. Protection of the lesser long-nosed bat would contribute to preserving the dominant plant forms of the Sonoran Desert.



1. US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1994. Lesser Long-Nosed Bat Recovery Plan


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