Nectar bats feed on the nectar and pollen of agave and columnar cactus, such as saguaro and organ pipe. Their long tongues enable them to reach deep within the flowers to obtain the nectar, much like hummingbirds. They also feed on cactus fruit. They are fascinating creatures and can easily be watched for they also drink the sugar water found in hummingbird feeders.
Most of their range is in Mexico, and even farther south, but two species occur in southeastern Arizona from April to October. They migrate here to breed and to take advantage of the flowering cactus and agave. Of the two species, the Mexican Long-tongued Bat, Choeronycteris mexicana, has a longer snout but the best way to separate the two species is by looking at the membrane between the legs. The tail membrane of the Mexican Long-tongued Bat is only slightly indented and gives the appearance of a skirt. The Lesser Long-nosed Bat has no tail resulting in a deep indentation of this membrane which makes it look like it is wearing pants. More information on these bats can be found at the Arizona Game and Fish web site at www.gf.state.az.us/. Use the search feature to locate PDF documents on each of the species.
All images are of wild, free-flying bats taken in Miller Canyon, Huachuca Mountains, Arizona.