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Did You Know: Arizona Is Among Top States In US For Bat Species

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, February 26, 2016 - 5:23pm
Updated: Sunday, February 28, 2016 - 9:30pm
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(Photo by Randall D. Babb - Arizona Game and Fish Department)
The Yuma myotis species is likely one of the myotis species that frequents the bat roost at 24th Street and Camelback Road.

It’s that season again for the migration of animals into Arizona. Among them will be what biologists call among the most misunderstood and unappreciated mammals.

The sound of birds chirping is natural for us. We think nothing of it when were hear them. Well, what about bats? No, not spring training baseball types of bats. I’m talking about the flying mammal bats. Did you know Arizona is among two states with the largest number of bat species in the country?

“Arizona has 28 species of bats. We have the second highest diversity of bats species in the United States. We’re second only to Texas. They got one more documented species than we do," said Randy Babb, a biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

He drove to the flood control channel near 40th Street and Camelback Road — an area with a large bat colony.

“So this runs right through the center of Phoenix. The other end comes out at Biltmore and 24th Street, and both ends of this bats exit out of.”

Babb said this flood control tunnel is the perfect man-made cave that provides the type of habitat bats need to roost and reproduce. A handful of bats of various species live here. In about a month, as many as 10,000 Mexican free-tailed bats will travel north and migrate into this spot - most of them female, pregnant and ready to raise their babies.

“As they arrive here, they become implanted back into the uterine wall and they start to develop again."

Many think of the wide-winged, big-eyed flying mammal as a beastly thing, but they’re not as bad as we’ve come to know them. It is rare they have rabies or other disease. The sounds they make are almost only audible to their own kind. They are insect eating animals that happen to do at night what birds do during the day. Babb said they’re among the best thing around for farmers, foresters an,d believe it or not, for us too.

“This colony is eating about 2,000 pounds of insects every night, and those are insects that are going to be bothering you during your barbecue and are going to be destroying crops.”

Babb said each of the estimated 10,000 bats that will be in this colony over the summer weigh as much as two nickels. Based on his research, in about 200 days, these bats will consume more than 400,000 pounds of insects — that’s about 30 big elephants.

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