Last updated: October 6, 2023
Lesser Long-nose bats are connoisseurs of cactus. With tongues as long as their bodies, lesser long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris yerbabuena) are unsung heroes in maintaining fragile desert ecosystems.
Connoisseurs of Cactus
Heroes of the Desert
Often unsung, desert nectar-feeding bats are true heroes in maintaining fragile desert ecosystems in the southwestern United States and Mexico. They are the primary night pollinators of both the organ pipe and saguaro cactus. In turn, growing up to 50 feet in height, the cacti provide important nesting and perching sites for a variety of birds, such as red-tailed hawks, elf owls, Gila woodpeckers, and gilded flickers.
As the season progresses, the bats’ diets focus on the sweet fruit produced by desert cacti. They are able to consume the fruits’ pulp, but the seeds pass through the bats’ digestive tracts intact, thus aiding in the dispersal of cactus plant seeds.
Bats in Balance
Lesser Long-nosed Bats & National Parks
Examples of conservation measures include conducting bat population surveys and marking bats to track their migratory routes and identify crucial habitat. Access to caves and abandoned mine shafts where bats may be roosting is being limited through public education and the installation of bat-friendly entrance gates.