Mexican Long-Tongued Bat - Illustration by George Maleski

Mexican Long-Tongued Bat
Choeronycteris mexicana

 

The Mexican long-tongued bat is a medium-sized nectar-eating bat with a leaf- like flap of skin at the tip of a long, slender nose. The bat has a fourteen inch wingspan and weighs about three quarters of an ounce.1 It has medium-sized ears and a very small tail. The color is brown to grayish-brown on the upperparts, and paler below. The bat has a very long, bristle-like tongue, which it uses to sip nectar from various types of agave and cacti.1

Habitat: In Arizona, Mexican long-tongued bats are found in mine tunnels, caves, rock fissures, even buildings from the lower edge of the oak zone through the pine-oak woodland to the pine-fir belt. Vegetation in the vicinity of the roost site includes ocotillo, yucca, agave, manzanita, evergreen oak, and juniper. The bat has a tendency to roost in well-lighted portions of the roost site.1 The bat is most frequently found in elevations from 4,000 to 6,000 feet.2

Range: The range of the bat includes Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico, and Central and South America. In Arizona, the bats are found from the Chiricahuas to the Santa Catalinas, Peloncillo, Animas, and Baboquivaris Mountains. The bat winters in Mexico and breeds in the United States.

Diet: The feeding habits of the Mexican long-tongued bat are not very well known. They feed largely on nectar and pollen from agave and night-blooming cacti, such as saguaros and organ pipe cacti, and may also eat insects. They have also been seen feeding from hummingbird feeders.1

Reproduction: The population ecology of the bat is not well studied. In Arizona, young are born during the last half of June to the first days of July.1 Females give birth to a single pup which is capable of flight after the first three weeks.

Status: The Mexican long-tongued bat is considered a Federal Species of Concern and is recognized as Forest Service Sensitive, as well as Arizona Game and Fish Department Wildlife of Special Concern.2

Mexican Long-Tongued Bat in Pima County: Much of the Mexican-long tongued bat range occurs in Pima County, including several maternity roosts in Colossal Cave Mountain Park.3 The bat has been called a "keystone mutualist" because of its role as a pollinator. Threats to this species include disturbance by humans and loss of foraging habitat.1

References:

1. BISON-M Taxonomy. 1997. Mexican Long-Tongued Bat (Choeronycteris mexicana).

2. Arizona Game and Fish Department. 1997. (Choeronyceteris mexicana). Heritage Data Management System.

3. 11/26/99 Web site: www.colossalcave.com/bats.html


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