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Mexican Free Tail Bat in Florida

08.09.2005 - Here we have a Mexican Free Tail Bat, Tadarida brasiliensis. Why is it not Tadarida mexiciensis? Perhaps for the same reason the Norway Rat, Rattus norvegicus is not called the Rattus newyorkseweregicus - when it comes to taxonomical nomenclature, it's first come, first serve. Whoever discovers the species gets to name it. That's why a type of louse found on owls is named the Strigiphilus garylarsoni, because Gary Larson himself discovered this species, and he is a vain man, and he also closely resembles the organism that bears his name, in both appearance and behavior. The point here is that the scientific name of a species does not necessarily describe the traits of the animal (unlike gorilla gorilla, whose name leaves little to ponder).

Thus it is with the Mexican Free-Tail bat. It's not only from Brazil. It also is not only from Mexico. In my personal experience, it's only from the attics of people with big mouths and small pocketbooks. In truth, it's from most of South America, Central America, and southern North America, Florida included. In fact, I call the bat the Brazilian Free Tail, as do most biologists and other people in my field that I've encountered. A Google search of the two competing names, and they are competing as much as Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus are competing, yields 500,000 results for "Brazilian Free Tail Bat", 1,270,000 results for "Mexican Free Tail Bat" and 0 results for "David Seerveld is dashingly handsome". So it appears that Mexican wins out, which is largely the reason I created this page: in case anyone wants to do a little online research about the bat, and possibly find an expert for removal of Mexican Free-Tail bats in Florida or elsewhere. Plus see a fine photo of two handsome mugs smiling for the camera.

In this particular photo by the way, we see a bat that I caught at a customer's home. One would normally never see me handling a bat in this manner. First of all, my bat exclusions are done with a minimum of stress put upon the animal. The bats are never physically touched - they are removed in a safe and gentle way. Secondly, bats are very fragile. The wings are actually analogous to hands, with a thin membrane stretched across the finger bones. As with any flying animal, the bones are thin and light, and anyone who handles a bat without the gentle touch of a dentist could break these bones. Third, no one should pick up a bat, because if you encounter one on the ground, it may be rabid, and the only chance it'll bite and infect you is if you pick the dang thing up. Fourth, if you must pick up a bat, there's no reason to spread the wings out as I have above.

So then, why am I holding the bat? Well, it came from inside a customer's bedroom of course, and I had no choice but to remove it by hand, and once I had it in hand, I had no choice but to take the best bat-holding photo that I could muster, and bats look more impressive with the wings out. But I was extremely gentle, and when the photo shoot was over, I threw the bat up into the air, and off it flew to Brazil, where it belongs.

Do it yourself: Visit my How To Get Rid of Bats page for tips and advice.
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