The Watering Hole

A watering hole next to a limestone cliff
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NPS Photo/Adam Gericke

Area Description: This watering hole draws animals to it far and wide. As the ranger drew close to take this picture, a bison bull came ambling out causing the ranger to beat a hasty retreat. This small cave serves as a refuge for any of the eleven species of bat that calls Wind Cave National Park home.

Note: All back country caves are closed in Wind Cave National Park.

Visible Vegetation: Common Mullein, Ragweed, Currant, Milkweed

Possible Animal Habitat:

Mammals: Bison, Prairie Dogs, Black-footed Ferrets, Elk, Badger, Skunk, Raccoon, Long-tailed Weasel, Coyote, Mountain Lion, Bobcat, Red Fox, Pronghorn

Bats: Little Brown Myotis, Western Small-footed Myotis, Long-legged Myotis, Northern Myotis, Long-eared Myotis, Fringe-tailed Myotis, Townsend’s Big-eared Bat, Eastern Red Bat, Hoary Bat, Silver-haired Bat, Big Brown Bat

Birds: Mourning Dove, Western Wood-peewee, Plumbeous Vireo, Dusky Flycatcher, Violet-green Swallow, House Wren, American Robin, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbird, Brewer’s Blackbird

Geology: Here the seasonal stream runs right next to short Paha Sapa Limestone (Madison Formation) cliff and creates a small watering hole. The valley floor is made up of unconsolidated gravel.

For Educators:

Thematic Information: This watering hole on the edge of a prairie dog town attracts many bison and other animals to it.

The cave is another interesting feature. This cave could be used as bats as shelter during the day. Bats are extremely important insectivores. For example, a little brown bat can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes in an hour and can live up to 40 years! Unfortunately, bats are being wiped out by a fungal disease called White Nose Syndrome. It has killed over 6 million bats as of 2016.

Recommended Student Activity:

Further discuss white nose syndrome with the following resources.

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Last updated: September 22, 2016

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26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747


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