SAN ANTONIO – Texans, and specifically San Antonians, are likely familiar with bats considering the largest bat colony in the world is located just outside the Alamo City.
Of the 47 different species of bats found in the U.S., 32 can be found in Texas, making it the battiest of all 50 states, according to officials with Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Bracken Cave, located 20 minutes outside of San Antonio, is home to the largest bat colony in the world with a population of up to 20 million bats during breeding season when the Mexican free-tailed bats at the cave give birth to one pup each.
Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony which can be found under the Congress Avenue Bridge.
There are many bat-watching sites around the state though, not just in the San Antonio and Austin areas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has a list of places to watch the bats online. Check out the locations in the map below:
Each site has its own rules for visitation. Some locations are private and require reservations from the landowner, while others require membership to Bat Conservation International. Certain bat-viewing locations don’t require reservations and are completely free, like the Congress Avenue Bridge viewing site.
Bats are incredibly important to Texas for many reasons. They are immensely helpful to the environment and eat their body weight in bugs every night.
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.
The agave plant, bananas, peaches, cloves, balsa wood and hundreds of plants and flowers all depend on bats for pollination.