“Hi again.” I am Ms. Batty, one of the 1.6 Mexican free-tailed bats that come to The Eckert James River Bat Cave and stay from May to October. We, myself and other female bats, get to the cave in late April or early May and just fly around the hill country eating millions of bugs until about the middle of June. We are then joined by several million other female bats that will come to The Eckert James River Bat Cave to have their babies. Even with each of us giving birth to only one baby (pup), the population just explodes. From about June 15TH until July 15TH the pups are born.
When the pups are ready to be born we will enter the cave and hang from the ceiling by our “thumbs” instead of by our feet as we would normally do when resting. We then take our tail section and draw it up to make a small basket. Our babies will be born in less than a minute. As they are being born they defy gravity. Instead of going out in just any direction, they shoot straight up into the waiting feet of their mothers. Our feet are extremely tiny but since we only weigh about what two nickels weigh, I think we look well proportioned. With my feet I pull the baby to my body and begin to rub on it. As I rub on it, I also talk to it and it talks back to me. We share this bonding time for about 10-15 minutes and then I cut the umbilical cord. Bats are mammals and we give birth like a dog or cat. After the cord has been cut, I gently place my pup under my wing and allow it to nurse for about 15 minutes. I then place it in an area that I will remember when I have to come back to nurse it. The bond that was generated when the pup was born helps me to locate it from among the millions and millions of other baby bats that group together in clusters of about 400-500 per square foot on the cave ceiling. Remember though, my pup is like a tiny pink jelly bean. It will only weigh about a quarter of my weight and be about half of my length at birth. Although tiny from your standpoint, a human weighing 120 pounds would have to give birth to a thirty pound baby to equal in ratio what we do while giving birth. My baby is also pink and hairless at birth. Within just four short weeks, my pup has grown to almost my length, almost my weight, has grown a beautiful black coat, and is ready to be on its own. Next week I will tell you why my baby and all of the other millions in the cave grow so rapidly. Until then, I will tell you a cute story about a four year old young man that came with his great grandmother, grandmother, grandfather and parents to see us. When Vicki gave the educational presentation, she asked how many people would like to hold a bat. Two people in the crowd raised their hands. She walked over to Nathan Wood, the young boy I was telling you about and asked him if he would like to hold a bat. He very quickly said, “NO!” Then he let her know that you should NEVER try to touch a bat!! Vicki was thrilled! She had two nickels in her hand to let people know that this was the only “bat” that they should EVER try to touch. These two nickels represented our weight. She actually lets the little ones name bats that she nets to show the audience how cute we are. In fact, Nathan named my great, great, great aunt that was netted, EMMA. Emma will forever be appreciative to that young man for such a delightful name.
Before I go, I would like to remind anyone that wants to come out to see us come in on the MORNING of Saturday, June 16TH, please call the bat hotline (325-347-5970) for reservations. You DO NOT need reservations to come out Thursday-Sunday night during the season . We are currently leaving the cave right before nine o’clock these nights, but the time will change quickly now that the other mothers are joining us from other colonies, so be sure to check the bat hotline for current emergence times. To quote Vicki, “See ya at the cave!””