Bats in New Mexico

Cave Bat

CAVE BAT - Myotis velifer

Weight: 12-15 grams

Wingspan: 28-32 centimeters

Distribution: Southern Kansas and western Oklahoma, the southwestern United States, Mexico, and into Central America.

Ecology and Behavior: Occurs in colonies of 2,000-5,000 individuals throughout much of its range. Habitats vary from desert floodplains and rocky canyonlands to the cave country from central Texas to southcentral Kansas. In sumn1er, this species congregates in caves, mines, and less often in buildings. Most individuals in populations in Arizona and California appear to be migratory and most in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas appear to be per­manent residents that hibernate in caves during winter. Flight is stronger, more direct, and with less flutter than most other bats of the genus. These bats begin emerging from the daytime roost well before dark, fill their stomachs within about 0.5 hour of foraging, and retire to some shelter such as a building, cave, or mine for a night resting period. There is no clearly defined second foraging period in early morning as in some other species. Predators include snakes, hawks, owls, and raccoons.

Food Habits: Like many insectivorous bats, this species is opportunistic in feeding habits, with diets that fluctuate by season and habitat. Common food items are small moths and beetles.

Reproduction: After a gestation of 60-70 days, one baby is born in late June or early July. During parturition (about 20 minutes), the baby is caught in the mother's folded tail membrane, and then it crawls to a nipple and begins to nurse. Life span may be 10-12 years.

Status of Populations: Common throughout most of its range.

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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