The Amazing Mexican Free-Tailed Bat
The largest community of mammals in one space spends the summer in Bracken Cave, outside San Antonio, Texas. Here, 20 million female Mexican free-tailed bats raise their 20 million pups, gulping down 150 tons of insects every night!
The bats winter in Mexico and mate in the spring. Then, for some reason unknown to scientists, the females head to Texas. While they make the difficult migration, the females store the male sperm in suspended animation. Once settled in at Bracken Cave, they become pregnant. Four months later, each has a single pup. Although the cave’s one-room nursery has 20 million noisy pups, a mother bat can find her own youngster in as little as 12 seconds!
At night, each female leaves the cave and flies as far as 60 miles, consuming as much as her total body weight in insects. After about five hours, she returns to the cave to nurse her pup. The bat’s normal diet does not provide enough fat for the mother bat’s rich milk. But the nursing period also falls at the same time that an ant, that is a rich source of fat, grows wings. These flying ants are available, in the bats’ airspace, at just the right time!
Someone has remarked that God must like bats a lot. He made more species of bats than any other mammal. And He has designed nature to provide for all the bats’ needs.