Well, let me tell you the complex reason for the name, “free-tailed”. It’s because of a tiny section of tail that sticks out from the rest of the body, not connected by the typical webbed skin bats use to fly. Ok not so complex, but with over 100 different species of Free-tailed bats, this little adaptation must account for some kind of advantage in the animal world doesn’t it? I mean..doesn’t it!?! Ok, that might have been too much. but as it turns out, most likely it’s for balance, just like the reason for every other animal tail. Though I could not find any article or evidence that would directly claim this.
Now for some Free-Tailed Facts!
- They are generally quite robust and consist of many strong flying forms with relatively long and narrow wings
- Another common name for some members of this group, and indeed a few species from other families, is mastiff bat
- The family’s scientific name comes from the type genus Molossus, which in turn is from the Molossus breed of dog.
- They range from 4 to 12 cm (1.6 to 4.7 in) in length, excluding the tail, and can weigh from 8 to 220 g (0.28 to 7.76 oz), depending on species
- They are insectivorous and catch their food on the wing.
- While some species roost in small groups in hollow trees or rocky crevices, some cave-dwelling species form vast colonies of up to 50 million individuals.
- By summer, male and female free-tails will have divided into Bachelor and nursery colonies.
- Bracken Cave is home to some 20 million free-tailed bats, a population that almost doubles when the bats give birth.
- Typically, each female produces just one young, and virtually all give birth during a brief span of time, peaking between the first and third weeks of June.
- Finding her young can take as little as 12 seconds to nearly 10 minutes.
- Observers often feel a slight breeze created by the bats as they swirl higher and higher to gain altitude before forming vast undulating columns.
Found around the world but largely unnoticed, see if you can spot a free-tailed bat tonight.