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Bat Videos!
Going Batty!

Teacher Tip! See
Video Clips and the Scientific Process

My name is Katy Hinman and I am the Bat Project Coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The lesser long-nosed bat is our only endangered species of bat, so we've been working hard to get to know more about it. Nectar-feeding bats, like the lesser long-nosed bat (or Lepto, as we like to call it), are important players out here in the desert. They pollinate the flowers of saguaro cacti, organ pipe cacti, and century plants. They also eat the fruit and spread the seeds of the saguaro and organ pipe. Since lots of other desert animals depend on these plants, the Leptos can be very important to the health of the whole desert system! I hope you enjoy seeing them up close in my video clips!


Netting a Bat

Viewing Tips

This is me getting a Lepto out of a mist-net I put up near a blooming century plant. You can see the bat’s face is covered with yellow pollen. It had evidently been visiting other plants before it came up to the one we were netting at.



Slurp Slurp!

Viewing Tips

I always feel a little sorry for the bats that I catch in the net. I know it must be a strange experience for them. So before I let them go, I give them a little snack to thank them for their cooperation. The dropper is just filled with sugar water. You can see that this little guy has apparently forgotten his troubles and is quite happy to get a free drink! The long tongue helps the bat get nectar out of the base of the flowers (as well as out of hummingbird feeders and, in this case, medicine droppers)!



Visiting a Hummingbird Feeder

Viewing Tips

These are bats visiting a hummingbird feeder. It’s just full of sugar water, which is a lot like the nectar they get out of the century plants and cacti that they visit. The bats can only hover for a second or two, so they have to have really good aim to get their tongues in those little holes! You can see there are a quite a few of them around. I often saw more than 10 bats swirling around a feeder at a time!


You can see that not all of the bats have as good aim as the others. The first bat here misses the hole and just ends up licking the outside of the feeder, and some of the others don’t have much better luck!



Two Species Together

Viewing Tips

In this clip you can actually see two different species of nectar-feeding bats! The first one is the Mexican long-tongued bat and the second is the lesser long-nosed bat. If you look closely, you can see the difference in their tail membranes. The Mexican long-tongued bat’s tail is more full between its legs, whereas the lesser long-nosed bat looks like it’s wearing pants.



Full Tummies!

Viewing Tips

These bats look pretty chubby, but they aren’t pregnant. They actually can fill up their bellies with up to 4 grams of nectar at a time. That may not sound like much, but they only weigh about 24 grams. That would be like a 60 pound kid drinking two and a half two-liter bottles of Coke at once!



Visiting a Century Plant

Viewing Tips

These bats are visiting a branch from a century plant. Each one of those little tube-y things is a flower, and there can be up to 100 flowers on a branch. Once again, aim is important! You can also see a lot of “chasing” going on. These bats often forage in pairs or groups of three and fly in a line one right behind the other.



Getting Nectar from Agaves

Viewing Tips

Even though the century plant’s flowers look very different from the cactus flowers, they work the same way. The nectar is down at the bottom of the flower, so the bat must push its way past all the pollen-loaded anthers to get to it. In the process, the bat gets pollen all over its head.



Leaving the Cave

Viewing Tips

Leptos can live in colonies of over 30,000 bats. There are about 5,000 bats living in this cave. Once they start coming out at night, they don’t beat around the bush. But don’t be fooled: the bats aren’t flying quite that fast, we speeded up the tape.



Slurp Slurp!

Viewing Tips

I always feel a little sorry for the bats that I catch in the net. I know it must be a strange experience for them. So before I let them go, I give them a little snack to thank them for their cooperation. The dropper is just filled with sugar water. You can see that this little guy has apparently forgotten his troubles and is quite happy to get a free drink! The long tongue helps the bat get nectar out of the base of the flowers (as well as out of hummingbird feeders and, in this case, medicine droppers)!



Quick Drinks in Slow Motion

Viewing Tips

You can see that these bats don’t waste any time. Even in slow motion, they are only at the flowers for a few seconds.



Putting the Brakes On!

Viewing Tips

When the bats approach the flowers, they actually use a braking motion to stay in place for a few wingbeats before dropping away.



Super Long Tongue

Viewing Tips

In slow motion, you can really see just how long this bat’s tongue is! It has special structures that help the bat sop up nectar like a rag mop. Yummy!


Try This! Journaling and More!

  • Imagine you are a Lesser Long-nosed Bat. Think about how your world would look and sound and feel and taste and smell. What events would be important in your world? If your job as a bat was to produce TV shows for other bats, what kind of stories would you produce?
What bats live in your area? What do they eat? Take a walk in your neighborhood and see what flowers might be good for bats. At night, point the beam of a bright flashlight into the sky and see if you can see insects that bats might eat.

 

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