The Pallid bat is pale compared to the bats we usually think of. “Pallid” means pale, wan or colorless. This bat has yellowish brown to cream fur on the back and white fur on the belly. It has large ears. Their ears are about half as long as the length from its nose to the end of its body. These large ears allow them to detect their prey’s footsteps on the ground. And its eyes are larger than most other bats we see. They don’t just fly; when on the ground and looking for prey, they can stride!
These bats are found in arid regions in the west and along the coast from Canada to Mexico. They like rocky outcroppings and sparsely vegetated grasslands. Habitat must be near water.
Like most bats, they roost and use different roosts for different purposes. A day roost usually has a horizontal opening into an attic, shutters or some type of crevice. Nighttime finds them in the open near foliage. Hibernation takes them back to buildings, caves or cracks in rocks. They tend to stay put rather than migrate. When it gets cold, they will move deeper into caves for a more constant temperature.
Bats are great pest controllers. Eating almost half their body weight in one night, their dinner menu consists of crickets, scorpions (they are immune to the venom), centipedes, beetles, grasshoppers, and praying mantis. They may even eat lizards and rodents. While many bats catch food in the air, the pallid bat almost exclusively catches its food on the ground. It will then fly with its prey to a convenient location to eat. In the desert, they drink the nectar from cactus flowers by sticking their whole head into the flower. This provides the benefit of moving more pollen from one cactus to another.
Because of their habit of catching prey on the ground, they may become prey to cats, foxes, raccoons, snakes, coyotes and frogs.
Mating occurs in the fall, with babies born in late spring. The pup will stay with the mother until it learns to fly in five to six weeks.
Pallid bats are just one of the 45 bat species in the United States. Bats comprise about 20% of all mammal species with over 1200 different types. Bats are found everywhere except the Arctic and Antarctic. With their immense appetite for bugs, they have great agricultural value. The populations of bats in the United States is threatened by habitat loss, disturbance of roosting areas, pesticide use, and disease.
A pallid bat may live up to 10 years in the wild.