All About the Mexican Free-tailed Bat

Known for unique features such as their social habits, Mexican free-tailed bats are found across a wide range of locations. The critters, which are also called Brazilian free-tailed bats, get their name from the nature of their tails. They have long tails, which is almost the length of their bodies. The tails of Mexican free-tailed bats extend past their tail membrane.


The long tail is a unique physical feature of this bat. They are medium sized and have fur which can be reddish, gray, or dark brown in color. The bats also have wrinkled lips and forward-pointing ears that are black and broad. The wings of Mexican free-tailed bats are narrow and long. They have an average weight of 11 to 14 grams with an average wingspan of 30 to 25 centimeters.


Mexican free-tailed bats are widely distributed across America. They are found in Central America as well as the southwestern US, northern South America, and Mexico. The bats are not found in Canada. The critters roost near water in locations such as abandoned buildings, attics, and underneath bridges. They are also found in forests, deserts, and agricultural land areas.

bat flying in attic


The critters are known for their excellent flying speed. They are described as the fastest mammals, maintaining flying speeds of up to 99 mph. They also fly at significant heights, up to 10,000 feet. Mexican free-tailed bats are also known for their social behaviors. The critters live in large groups. The massive colonies of the bats can have hundreds of thousands of members. The critters also form maternal colonies which can have up to 20 million members.

Mexican Free-tailed Bat

Life cycle

These bats can live up to 18 years. The adult female bat gives birth to her young during the summer period. Since the critters live in large maternal colonies, pups are raise communally. However, a mother can identify her pup based on a unique call it makes. Mexican free-tailed bats roost in caves. The young are usually kept at the highest level of the cave. Those areas are usually warm and suited for the best growth. The female bat becomes sexually mature at 9 months, but it takes the male about 2 years. The species are promiscuous and can keep multiple partners. Mating can be passive or active. The female stores the sperm until she ovulates. The female ovulates only once per year. After a gestation period of 11 to 12 weeks, the female births pups. The pups are initially heavily dependent on their mother. They are nurtured by the mother for about 4 weeks until they become more independent.


The critters are insectivorous and feed on a variety of insects. They also consume a lot of insects within a short period. Because they live in large numbers, the bats can decimate a large population of insects in no time. Colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats with millions of members can consume up to 25 tons of insects in one night.
Mexican free-tailed bats that live close to water bodies specifically feed on the insects attracted to such water bodies. They also drink from the water bodies. Mexican free-tailed bats can quickly reduce the population of insects in the areas they occupy. This is why they could be applied beneficially in farming communities. The critters especially feed on agricultural pests such as moths.
The critters choose their homes based on factors such as the presence of insects and the security of the caves.
Just like other bats, they feed at night and apply echolocation to identify and capture prey. The critters are preyed upon by animals such as snakes, owls, and raccoons. The predators can easily pick up the young when they fall from the cave or when they access the cave.
Mexican free-tailed bats increase their level of food consumption just before winter and during gestation. Just before winter, they create fat stores which they will metabolize later. The increased demands associated with caring with the young ones inspire increased food consumption in new mothers.


The most notable behavior of these critters is their social behavior. They are also nocturnal animals as they actively seek their food at night. The bats are migratory and travel long distances to find winter roosts which they will share with many other bats.
They have large ears, which they especially apply in echolocation, flying without encountering obstacles, and identifying prey effectively.
These bats are well distributed, with no threat to their existence. Their predators also do not pose a real harm to the bats.
The critters can feed on flying insects when they fly at different heights, including significant heights. They are described as jet mammals because of their notable speeds. In locations where they have large colonies, sightings of Mexican free-tailed bats could be memorable events.

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