Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat
Forests, rocky areas, caves, and urban spaces
Southern half of North America, the Caribbean, Central America, and parts of South America
Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
Brazilian free-tailed bats are medium-sized bats with wingspans of around 11 inches. Their bodies are covered in brown fur and they have distinctive short snouts and wrinkled upper lips. These bats are most easily recognized by their “free-tail,” which extends well beyond the end of their body.
Brazilian free-tailed bats are aerial insectivores, meaning they hunt for insects in mid-air. These bats use echolocation to find their prey, emitting high-pitched screeches that bounce off their surroundings, allowing them to "see" with their ears.
Brazilian free-tailed bats excrete guano, or bat droppings, which can be harvested as a fertilizer. However, bat guano also poses a health risk by spreading diseases that are transmitted through the air.
A colony of 40,000 to 80,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats lives beneath the McCarran bridge in Sparks each summer. At dusk each night, the entire colony can be spotted flying out for nocturnal feeding before they migrate south for the winter.
In the Paiute language, bats are called Pegahana’a.
A colony of Brazilian free-tailed bats have been known to spend the summer underneath the McCarran bridge near Cottonwood Park in Sparks. In the late summer, the bats can be seen flying out to feed at dusk.
Brazilian free-tailed bats are also known as Mexican free-tailed bats.
Haley McGuire (research & content)
Alex Shahbazi (edits, page design, & photo)