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The Chiricahuas has one of the largest variety and number of bats species found in North America. Due to the number of biotic communities that come together in the Chiricahuas and a wide variety of different habitats there have been 24 species of bats from three families recorded from this mountain range.


Family Phyllostomidae-Leaf-nosed Bats



Lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae ) Photo

One of our two nectar feeding species this bat is an endangered species. It ranges into desert areas of southern Arizona, southwest New Mexico. These bats follow a "nectar trail" from their over wintering sites in Mexico and Central & South America northward following the blooming of a variety of desert plants including Agaves, Cardon, Organ-pipe and Saguaro cactus. Females form maternity colonies to give birth in caves and old mines in May and June. These bats have long specialized tongues to lap-up nectar from flowers. They along with Mexican long-tongued bats are the primary pollinators of saguaro and organ pipe cactus. These bats at certain times during early spring and late summer take advantage of hummingbird feeders as sources of food. These artificial food sources maybe important food reservoirs for the bats at times of the year when natural food sources are in short supply.


Mexican long-tongued bat (Choeronycteris mexicana ) Photo

This bat has an elongated muzzle and a long tongue for reaching nectar deep inside flowers. These bats forage in desert areas and in canyon bottoms. These bats are found during the summer months in southeastern Arizona and are principle pollinators of a number of desert plants including Agaves, saguaro and organ pipe cactus. With their long tongues they will clean the pollen from their face and heads and consume it as their main protein source. They roost in caves, mines and rock crevices and occasionally in old buildings. These bats can also be seen visiting hummingbird feeders.


Family Vespertilionidae-Evening Bats


Silver-haired bat (Lasiurus noctivigans )

These bats are named for their black fur with white or silver tips. This species has a wide range from Alaska and Canada throughout most of the continental United States. It is found most commonly in the mountains at higher elevations where it feeds mostly on moths. They are solitary and roost on tree trunks where their coloration camouflages them or under loose bark. These bats are migratory heading south into Mexico and perhaps Central America for the winter.


Desert Red bat (Lasiurus blossevillii )

These larger bats are desert dwellers and are heavily furred with an orange-red color and are found in desert and riparian areas of the southwest. They have a wing span of 11 inches and a body length of 2-2.5 inches. These bats are summer residents and are solitary roosters. These bats typically roost in the foliage of trees and many times wrap their bodies in their furred tail so they resemble a dead leaf or fruit. These bats are insect feeders, emerging a couple hours after sundown and feeding until morning. Females give birth in early summer to one to five young, typically two.



Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus ) Photo

One of are largest and most striking bats, the hoary is named for the frosted appearance of it's white-tipped fur. They have long narrow wings up to 16 inches in span. The body is 3-3.5 inches. Like the Red Bat this species is a solitary rooster and typically roosts in the foliage of trees in riparian and forest areas. The Hoary is found throughout most of the continental US, with a subspecies in Hawaii. Females give birth in May and June to 1-2 babies. They feed on a variety of insects, but moths appear to be a main part of their diet. Some Hoarys migrate south to hibernate, although it was recently discovered that at least some stay in Arizona and hibernate in the open on the side of pine trees where they blend in with the bark. Others have been found hibernating in leaf litter on the ground.


Southern Yellow Bat (Lasiurus ega )

This bat ranges from South America northward to the southwestern US. It is thought to occur year round in parts of southern Arizona. These bats appear to be solitary roosters and have been found roosting in palm fronds in cities. They are more typically found in thickly vegetated riparian areas. They feed on a variety of insects over water. Females give birth to 1-2 young in early June. Little else is known about the biology of these bats.


Spotted Bat (Euderma maculatum )

The spotted bat is perhaps our most handsome species with its jet black and white spotted fur and large pink translucent ears.The large ears are curled back when the bat is at rest. This bat is found in desert, riparian and conifer forests throughout much of Arizona. They appear to roost in rocky crags and crevices and may be solitary roosters. Spotted bats feed primarily on moths. This species appears to breed in early spring and females give birth to 1-2 pups in late May and early June.


Allen's Lappet-browed Bat (Idionycteris phyllotis )

This large-eared bat ranges throughout the state except the southwestern deserts. They are found in riparian and forest areas. Their name comes from the two small skin flaps just above their eyes. They have a wingspan of 12-14 inches and the body is 2-2.5 inches. They feed over water and typically feed on small moths. Females form maternity roosts in cave and rock crevices. Females give birth to 1-2 young in June.


Townsend's Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii ) Photo

This medium-size bat has large ears sometimes over an inch long. The wing span is 11-12.5 inches, the body is 2-2.5 inches. This species is widespread in Arizona but uncommon in the southwestern deserts. These bats roost in caves and old mines and sometimes in old buildings and attics. They feed on a variety of insects primarily moths and have been known to "glean" insects from foliage. They forage well after dark until dawn. Mating occurs in the fall with females forming maternity colonies in caves and mines and giving birth in May and June. Like the spotted and Lappet-browed these bats curl their large ears when roosting. These bats hibernate in the southern part of the state in cold caves and mines. They occasionally come out of hibernation on warmer days to seek water.


Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus ) Photo

Pallid bats are one of the most common bats in lower elevation desert and grassland areas throughout the state. These bats have large ears and eyes and their fur is a pale color. They have a wingspan of 14-15 inches and a body length of 2.5-3 inches. Pallid bats have a unique foraging strategy, they under near the ground listening for the low frequency sounds and even the "footsteps" of their prey. They are known to glean insects from foliage. They eat crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, centipedes and scorpions. They appear to be immune to the stings of scorpions. Pallids roost in small colonies up to 100 individuals and have a day roost as well as a night roost usually in cave, mines and rocky crevices. They sometimes are found in the attics of old buildings.


Western Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus hesperus )

Our smallest bat, "pips" are some of the first bats to emerge in the early evening well before dark. They are found throughout most of the state in desert areas, riparian and forest areas. They roost usually near a water source. They roost in rock crevices, caves, mines and sometimes buildings. The feed on small insects including moths, swarming termites and ants. Females form maternity colonies and give birth in the early summer. Females usually have two pups.


Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus ) Photo

This medium size bat is found throughout the US. It is found throughout the state of Arizona from desert foothills to high elevation forests. Big browns are one of our most common bats. They roost in caves, mines, rock crevices and not uncommonly found in the attics of houses, barns and under bridges and bat houses. They eat a large variety of insects including many kinds of beetles. They breed in the fall and females give birth usually to one pup the following early summer. They hibernate in cold caves and abandoned mines.


Fringed Myotis (Myotis thysanodes )

One of the small "mouse-eared" bats, the fringed myotis is named for a fringe of small hairs along the trailing edge of the tail membrane. It is found in desert scrub and grassland to pine forest. Females give birth to one baby in early June in maternity colonies. Males roost separately. They roost in caves, mine and the attics of old buildings. They feed on a variety of small insects and seem to prefer beetles.


Long-legged Myotis ( Myotis volans )

This bat is found in the north-central and southeastern part of the state in riparian areas near water to pine forests. Females give birth in early summer. They form maternity colonies in buildings,rock crevices and trees. This species is thought to hibernate, but little is known about their winter habits. They feed primarily on moths over and near water.


Western Small-footed Myotis (Myotis ciliolabrum ) Photo

This small bat is found throughout most of the state in oak-juniper woodland, chaparral and riparian areas. These bats, as their name implies, have very small feet. They are found roosting in rock crevices, caves, mines, buildings and even under tree bark. Mating is in the fall, with females giving birth to a single baby in the early summer. The females form small maternity colonies of up to two dozen individuals. They feed on small moths, mosquitoes and beetles.


California Myotis (Myotis californicus ) Photo

This bat very closely resembles the Small-footed Myotis and is often difficult to tell the two apart. It is one of the common bats of desert scrub, riparian and pine forests. These bats roost wherever they find suitable,sites. These can be in mines, caves, buildings, rock crevices or under tree bark. Young are born in early summer after mating the previous fall. Maternity colonies are usually small. These bats start to forage soon after sunset and feed on a variety of small insects over or near water. They appear to remain active during the winter months when temperature are warmer and only hibernate when colder temperature dictate.


Long-eared Myotis (Myotis evotis )

This species gets it's name from the long-narrow dark ears. They have a wingspan of 10 inches and a body length of 1.5-2 inches. It is found in riparian areas, woodlands and forests. They roost in small groups in caves, mines, buildings, hollow trees, crevices in rocks and behind bark. Male and females roost separately with females forming small maternity colonies. Females give birth to one baby in late June and early July. They feed on a variety of small insects and are known to pick insects off of rocks, ground and foliage.


Southwestern Myotis (Myotis auriculus )

This species is found mostly in the southern part of the state. They inhabit the mountain "Sky Islands" of southern Arizona and are found in riparian areas to conifer forests. This bat is a summer resident of Arizona and it's winter range is unknown. The young are born in June and the females form maternity colonies of up to 50 females and young. The females use old woodpecker cavities, knot-holes and hollow trees for their maternity roosts. These bats eat a variety of insects, especially moths and are known to pick insects off of vegetation and the ground.


Yuma Myotis (Myotis yumanensis ) Photo

This species is are second smallest bat with a wing-span of 9-9.5 inches and a body length of 1.5-2 inches. It is found throughout most of the state and inhabits desert areas, grassland, agricultural areas and riparian areas. This species typically feeds over water where it captures mayflies, midges. mosquitoes and other small insects. These bats seem to have a preference for inhabiting buildings and the underside of bridges. The females form maternity colonies of up to 1500 and give birth to a single pup in June. They are thought to migrate short distances to suitable hibernation sites in caves or old mines.


Cave Myotis (Myotis velifer )

This species is found in the southern part of Arizona primarily in desert areas. They forage over vegetation for moths, beetles and other small insects. They roost in caves, mines and rock crevices. Females give birth in late June and July. They form maternity roosts of up to 15,000. Males stay separated from the females during the summer and form bachelor colonies. They hibernate in cold caves and mines.


Family Molossidae-Free-tail Bats


Mexican Free-tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis )

As the name implies this bat has a bare tail that extends beyond the tail membrane. This species has a very large range over the central and southern part of the US. They form colonies that can be into the millions. They roost in caves, mines, under bridges and in buildings. They are very fast and long distance fliers. Large colonies when they exit their roost at dusk form dense clouds of bats and may fly as much as 60 miles in search of their insect prey (primarily moths). Females give birth to a single pup in June and July. Mothers leave their young behind in the roost when going out to forage. Upon returning the mother can find her baby among perhaps millions of others by sound and smell. This species does not hibernate, instead migrate south to Mexico and Central America during the winter months.


Big Free-tailed Bat (Nyctinomops macrotus )

This is one of our largest bats with a wing-span of 17 inches and a body length of 3-3.5 inches. They are found throughout Arizona during the summer. They are very strong fliers and can travel long distances. They are found in a variety of habitats from desert scrub to conifer forests. They roost high up on canyon walls and rock outcrops in rock crevices. They leave their roosts well after dark to forage on large moths, katydids, crickets and beetles. The calls of this bat are within the hearing range of people. Females give birth in June and July to one baby.


Pocketed Free-tailed Bat (Nyctinomops femorosaccus )

This bat looks very similar to the Mexican Free-tailed bat. It is found widely scattered from central and southern Arizona. It is found in desert areas near rocky cliffs. They form colonies of up to 100 individuals. They feed on a variety of insects, primarily moths. Females give birth to a single baby in June.


Western Mastiff Bat (Eumops perotis )

This is our largest bat with a wingspan of 21-22 inches, and a body length of 4-5 inches. It ranges throughout Arizona mostly in areas of desert scrub and is a year round resident. It roosts in rock crevices, under bridges and other man-made structures. These bats leave their roosts well after dark and feed on a wide variety of insects and continue to feed most of the night. Males have a scent gland on their throat which is used to attract females. Females give birth in early summer to a single pup. These bat generally form small colonies of up to 100. The species wintering habits are largely unknown.





Copyright 1998-2003 Charles Rau

All images and text on these pages are under the copyright of Charles S. Rau and CSR Nature Photography, none of the images or text may be copied, reproduced, downloaded or used without the express written permission of Charles S. Rau