To the Bat Cave!

Brad Wier

More than 20 million arrive in Comal County each summer and they’re up all night. But they aren’t exactly tourists.

Mexican free-tailed bats at Bracken Cave make up the largest colony of mammals in the world – so big, in fact, that their spectacular nightly departures are easily detected by weather radar.

Bats’ nocturnal habits have long made people suspicious of them, but they’re actually up from dusk to dawn working for a living.

Did you know:

  • Bracken Cave bats consume tons of moths, mosquitoes, corn earworms and other agricultural pests every night.
  • They’ll fly a few hundred miles to the coast on a single night in search of insects and hurtle back by dawn to the Bracken roost.
  • Seventy percent of bats are insectivorous, but others eat fruit and nectar. The Mexican long-nosed bat is the major pollinator for agaves and century plants.

Also notable is the partnership between SAWS, Bat Conservation International, the Edwards Aquifer Authority and the Nature Conservancy, which together protect the nesting site at the Bracken Cave. In 2002, SAWS purchased a 640-acre conservation easement adjacent to the cave, which is located on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.

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