Manu Ginobili returns to world-renowned bat cave just outside San Antonio

Bracken Cave is home to the largest bat colony in the world

The world’s largest bat colony can be found at Bracken Cave, just 20 minutes outside the city of San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO – Spurs legend Manu Ginobili paid a return visit to Bracken Cave, and he posted about it on Twitter.

The cave is home to the world’s largest bat colony and is located just 20 minutes outside the city of San Antonio.

Every June, the Mexican free-tailed bats at Bracken Cave give birth to one pup each, bringing the total population up to about 20 million bats.

The pups start flying in July which makes visiting the cave in July and August the best for bat viewing, according to Bat Conservation International (BCI)

Ginobili called the visit a “marvelous experience for the family” and encouraged fans to become members of BCI which helps protect the animals.

The former-Spur, who retired in 2018, swatted a bat out of mid-air during an NBA game in 2009. Afterward, Ginobili had to get a series of rabies shots and admitted the swat wasn’t the best idea. Read more on that here.

The cave isn’t open to the public but members of BCI are typically able to view the bat emergence on certain designated nights each year. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, bat flight viewing nights have been canceled until further notice.

If you haven’t joined BCI and had an opportunity to visit the cave, Bracken Cave director Fran Hutchins describes the bat flight as “a swirling ‘batnado,’ [that] will start rising out of the sinkhole, and once they get up to the tree-top levels, they’ll start streaming away from the cave. They stay tight, like a river of bats, because of predators in the area.”

The Bracken Cave bat colony is listed as a species of greatest concern and their loss could be devastating for the environment and the South Texas ecosystem, according to Hutchins.

Raising awareness and educating the public about the importance of bats is key to their sustainability and survival.

Bats are incredibly important to Texas for many reasons. The colony at Bracken Cave eats “somewhere in the neighborhood of 140-147 tons of insects” every night which helps cut down on the amount of pesticide farmers have to use for their crops, and in turn, helps keep chemicals out of the air and out of the food, which helps the people who live in South Texas.

Bats are also considered a keystone species that is vital to certain ecosystems.

Without bats’ pollination and seed-dispersing services, local ecosystems could gradually collapse as plants fail to provide food and cover for wildlife species near the base of the food chain, according to Batcon.org.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.