Bat Education On Museum Reach Reveals Different Eating Patterns For Bachelor Bats

Jul 14, 2014

The bat colony underneath I-35 at Camden Street is a bachelor colony, where bats have a somewhat different feeding habit than in the Bracken Cave, where ten million bats leave at the same time each night.
Credit San Antonio River Authority

The San Antonio River Authority is again offering its bat educational program on the Museum Reach to raise awareness about the bats’ relationship to our environment. 

This is the SARA’s fifth year for "Bat Loco," an informational program that coincides with the bats’ colonization after their return to South Texas from Mexico.

"The ones that live under the I-35 bridge are bachelors. That's an all-male colony," said SARA spokeswoman Yviand Serbones, who said they started the program in answer to questions from locals and tourists.

"They eat their weight in insects every night and they help out with the environment in terms of the number of bugs they eat, that means less pesticides that are used," Serbones said. "They play such a big role in the environment. They save farmers hundreds of millions of dollars a year by eating the bugs that attack their crops.

"People are shocked to find out how many live in Central and South Texas right now. This season we have 100 million bats," she said. 

Serbones said bats at the maternity ward at the Bracken Cave leave at the same time each night in search of food. But the bachelors that roost under I-35 have different feeding habits.

"They go out and eat but they don't follow a pattern like the ones at the maternity colonies do," Serbones said. "There's always the first ones that take off to kind of test the waters, and then there are times when they all take off at once and times when you see them take off in small batches."

Serbones said sometimes the program works to disabuse people of information that makes them fear of bats. 

Guests listen to informational presentation about Mexican Free-tailed bats that live under the bridges along the Museum Reach on the San Antonio River and in other locations around the city.
Credit San Antonio River Authority

"That bats are not attracted to humans. That bats are actually not blind and some of them see in color. Bats are not attracted to white and don't get caught in your hair," Serbones said. 

The Bat Loco program runs each Tuesday evening through August 12. It’s on the San Antonio River beneath the intersection of Camden and Newell Streets with parking available about two blocks away under Hwy. 281 at Newell. Guests are encouraged to come with questions -- and to bring their own seating.

SARA advises guests to bring comfortable seating and water, use sunscreen, and apply mosquito repellent prior to arriving.