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Bat Tales

Posted by on 8/9/13 at 09:57am

Last weekend several of us had the unique opportunity to witness, as guests with EarthShare of Texas, the nightly feeding exodus of Mexican Freetail bats from their roost at Bracken Cave. Located just north of our home base in San Antonio, the cave is managed by Bat Conservation International, a wonderful group working to educate people and protect bats. Lake|Flato is a proud contributor to the EarthShare of Texas workplace giving program, which in turn benefits hundreds of local conservation efforts like BCI. 

Bracken Cave is home to the largest colony of bats in the world! There are 15-20 million little critters living in the expansive cave, with 500 bats occupying each 1 square foot of space.  Beginning a few hours before dusk, the bats steadily stream out of the cave for well over 3 hours en route to their 60 mile trip to feed, during which the lot will consume thousands of pounds of insects per night. The bats continue this ritual nightly from spring until fall, when they migrate south to holiday in Mexico, as we all should.

Bracken Bats_3

Watching the bats is an amazing experience, but the entire natural process is what made the evening memorable.  Early in the evening, birds of prey, namely hawks and falcons, circle overhead and strategically pick-off the unfortunate few as the endless cloud of bats trails away across the sky.  This was made way cooler by the binoculars provided to us at the viewing, for a live performance of the food chain at work.  It gets better.

Bracken Bats_2

Later in the evening the snakes come out.  (I have a thing for snakes, and for caves while we’re at it, so this is about as cool as it gets)  So, these snakes slither out of their rocky lairs and position themselves to participate in the cave ecosystem as well.  These are pretty decent sized snakes, some over 6 feet long I reckon, and they make their way to the mouth of the cave to take their turn at snagging a bat or two.  We even saw a snake hanging Indiana Jones style from the top of the cave mouth waiting for a fly-by dinner!  Again, shout out to binoculars.

After that, we saw an albino bat fly out, but that wasn’t that cool because it was only like 1:20,000,000 and that’s not much when you compare it to dangling snakes slithering out of holes.  Oh, and the entire bottom of the cave is filled with carnivorous beetles too, but still, not as cool as snakes.

Bracken Bats_4

We’d like to send a big thank you to EarthShare of Texas for sponsoring the event and a wonderful evening – give them your money and help save the world!  Also, thank you to BCI for your conservation efforts at Bracken Cave, a place unique to Central Texas, and for the binoculars.  For more info on the missions of these important organizations visit:

http://www.earthshare-texas.org/

http://batcon.org/index.php/get-involved/visit-a-bat-location/bracken-bat-cave/subcategory/57.html