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The world’s largest
bat colony is right here in Texas!
Bracken Cave is the summer home of over 15 million Mexican free-tailed
bats making it the largest bat colony in the world as well as one of the
highest concentrations on earth of mammals in general.It is a key maternity site for this species,
and females congregate there each year to give birth and rear their young.Most males roost elsewhere in smaller groups.
emergence of these millions of bats from the 100’ wide half-moon opening at
dusk is an unforgettable sight.As you
gaze into the night sky and watch them take flight, the previously empty blue
canvas will transform into a sea of blackness in a matter of seconds.
By late July, young
bats are ready to test their flight skills outside the cave, joining their
mothers to feed on insects. Although they are weaned soon after, their initial
energy demands are high, forcing nursing mothers to consume more than their
body weight in insects each night. To find sufficient food, the bats often
emerge up to three hours before sundown, creating one of the most spectacular
sights in all nature, an event spanning about 4 hours.
The cave is owned by
Bat Conservation International, an organization with the sole mission to
preserve the land in order for native plants and animals to thrive.Bat Conservation International (BCI) first
purchased the land on which the cave is located in 1992.It is a short distance from the Natural
Bridge Caverns in New Braunfels, TX. Although access to
the cave itself is prohibited, nightly guided tour lead you directly to its
mouth to watch the spectacular show unfold.
All Photos are from the Bat Conservation International Website.