|Long-nosed bat that pollinates Agave that give us tequila|
Today while you celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a margarita or a shot of tequila, you should probably make a toast to bats. Why toast bats? Long-nosed bats specifically the Genus Leptonycteris are the main pollinators of Century Plants, aka Agave. Tequila comes from the distillation of juices from Agaves.
More information about long-nosed bats from bat experts Bat Conservation International.
“Long-nosed bats are medium-sized members of the family Phyllostomidae, weighing about one-half to one ounce (15-30 grams). As in other nectar-feeding bats, the tongue and muzzle are elongate, an adaptation for feeding on the nectar that accumulates in the interior of some flowers. The short ears and the small, triangular noseleaf are signs that these bats rely less on echolocation and probably more on their sense of smell to locate the flowers on which they feed. The two species in this genus can be distinguished from other North American nectar feeders by the narrow membrane between their legs and lack of a visible tail. Sanborn’s Long-nosed Bat (Leptonycteris sanborni) lives in the dry portions of the North American tropics, from El Salvador to northern Mexico, but in the summertime it also inhabits the subtropical zones of Arizona and New Mexico. The Mexican Long-nosed Bat (L. nivalis) prefers cooler, higher places, including the pine-oak woodlands and thorn forest from Central Mexico to Texas. Both species are migratory, at least in the northern part of their ranges.
Nectar and pollen are the main food items for long-nosed bats. Some plants, such as the Saguaro and Organ Pipe cacti, some species of agaves, and a variety of tropical species, open their flowers at night and attract bats with copious amounts of nectar. As bats feast on this sweet repast, their fur gets coated with pollen grains. When they fly to another plant in search of more food, they transfer the pollen to a new flower, assisting in cross-fertilization of the plants. Both the plant and the bat benefit from this relationship, and therefore are said to be mutualists. Scientists believe that this association is the result of the coevolution of bats and plants and that the dependence is so strong that the plants could not reproduce without the intervention of the bats, which would starve to death if the plants were not present. This relationship seemingly is quite sensitive to disturbance.”
¡A murciélagos, Salud!
Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.
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