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Desert Diary
Mammals/Tree Bats


People tend to vastly underestimate biological diversity. Perhaps its because we so often hear about the mouse, the rat, or the bat. Actually, there are numerous kinds of mice, rats, and bats. In fact, the rodents as a whole have the most kinds of any of the mammalian orders, and bats are second. When speaking of bats, almost everyone thinks of caves, and it's true that many kinds do utilize caves. But again, we tend to underestimate the diversity. Some bats spend their days in crevices of rock outcrops, some under loose bark, and many hang up in trees.

The Chihuahuan Desert Region has several species of these tree bats. Oh, you're not likely to see them during the day, because they tend to blend nicely into the foliage. Being exposed to all sorts of weather, most have warm fur on the top of the tail membrane—one way to identify them as tree dwellers. Next time you see a slightly abnormal leaf, look closer; you may see a pair of beady eyes looking back at you.
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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Lasiurus cinereus roosting

Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus) roosting. Photograph by Dr. Lloyd Glenn Ingles © California Academy of Sciences.