Bats in New Mexico

Lesser Long-nosed Bat LESSER LONG-NOSED BAT - Leptonycteris curasoae

Weight: 21-23 grams.

Wingspan: : 37-38 centimeters.

Distribution: Southwestern United States to southern Mexico.

Ecology and Behavior: A resident of desert-scrub country. It is colonial, occupying mines and caves at the base of mountains where the alluvial fan supports agaves, yuccas, saguaros, and organ pipe cacti. It hangs with its feet so close together that it can turn nearly 360º to watch for predators. Like other leaf-nosed bats, it will take flight when disturbed. When launching, it gives several strong wing beats, bringing the body into a horizontal position before releasing its grip. It is an agile flier, and can fly nearly straight up while maintaining a horizontal body position. Flight is rapid and direct, showing none of the fluttering movements characteristic of most insectivorous bats. It emerges late in the evening, about 1 hour after sundown. The long tongue, covered with hair-like papillae toward the tip, is well adapted for feeding at flowers. These bats may land on the flowering stalk of agaves and insert their long snouts into each blossom. After feeding, the stomach is so distended that the bat appears to be in late pregnancy. When the stomach is filled, they retire to a night roost where they hang up and rest.

Food Habits: Nectar, pollen, and insects are consumed, but fruits are eaten after the flowering season is past.

Reproduction: One baby is born in late Mayor June. Maternity colonies may number into the thousands of individuals.

Status of Populations: May be locally common in southern Arizona.

Thanks to T. L. Best, J. S. Altenbach, and M. J. Harvey for permission to reprint portions of Bats of the Western United States, 1998.

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