Lesser long-nosed bat

The fact that they are critical pollinating agents for the blue agave plant (used to make tequila) saved them from the brink of being endangered


Lesser long-nosed bat


The fact that they are critical pollinating agents for the blue agave plant (used to make tequila) saved them from the brink of being endangered

Population 200,000
90% decline in the 1980s

Sporting fur that ranges in color from yellow-brown to gray on their backs and a contrasting rusty brown on their bellies, these bats present a striking appearance. Their physical attributes, including short tails, large ears, and particularly their extremely long tongues, which can measure up to 8 cm (approximately 3.15 inches) — roughly equivalent to their body length — are finely tuned to their ecological niche. The ‘long-nosed’ part of their name highlights their elongated and narrow snouts, topped with a triangular-shaped nose-leaf, an adaptation that significantly enhances their ability to detect the scent of blooming flowers.

Lesser long-nosed bats play a crucial ecological role as pollinators in their habitats, which span across the arid and semi-arid regions of the southwestern United States down through Mexico. Their long tongues are perfectly designed for reaching deep into flowers to access nectar while simultaneously pollinating the plants. This mutualistic relationship underscores the importance of these bats in maintaining the health and reproduction of various plant species, including the agave, which is vital not only for the ecosystem but also for local economies reliant on agave products such as tequila and mezcal.

Despite their ecological significance, Lesser long-nosed bats faced the threat of extinction due to habitat loss, destruction of roost sites, and the overharvesting of agave plants for commercial use, which depleted their primary food source. Recognized as near threatened and once listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1988, the species’ survival was in jeopardy. However, the concerted efforts of conservationists, notably Rodrigo Medellín, who advocated for the conservation of agave plants by encouraging farmers to allow a portion of their crops to flower, have led to a remarkable recovery. By restoring the bats’ food resources and habitat, these initiatives have facilitated the rebound of Lesser long-nosed bat populations.

In 2018, the Lesser long-nosed bat achieved a significant conservation milestone by being the first bat species to be delisted from the Endangered Species Act. This success story underscores the impact of targeted conservation efforts and the potential for collaborative approaches between conservationists and local communities to recover endangered species.


Population est.
El Salvador
United States

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic / Monomorphic (size)

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Colony

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No