Bracken Bat Cave

Bracken Cave


Useful Information

Location: I 35 from San Antonio NE, exit 175, between San Antonio and New Braunfels. From Garden Ridge follow Bat Cave Road.
Check-in for visits is at the Natural Bridge Caverns.
Open: APR Fri-Sun 18.
MAY Fri-Sun 17:30.
JUN to AUG Wed-Sun 17.
SEP to OCT Fri-Sun 17.
With reservation only.
For exact hours see onlne booking system at their website.
[2012]
Fee: Adults USD 24.99.
[2012]
Classification:  Karst cave
Light: n/a
Dimension:  
Guided tours: D=4h.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Bracken Bat Cave, Bat Conservation International, Tel: 210-651-6109.
Natural Bridge Caverns, 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road, San Antonio, TX 78266, Tel. +1-210-651-6101, E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:59:18 $

History

 
1992site owned by Bat Conservation International from Austin.
2011opened to the public.
2012open hours extended in the International Year of the Bat.

Description

Bracken Bat Cave is located west of Natural Bridge Caverns. As the name suggests, it is the home to an enormous amount of Mexican free-tail bats. The cave is closed to the public, so it is not possible to enter the cave. But there is a platform in front of the cave where visitors can see the flight of the bats in the evening.

Visitors are not allowed to smoke, photography is allowed but only without flash, and it is not possible to come late or leave early. Visitors who do not arrive in time are not allowed to join the tour later, and it is impossible to leave the cave earlier. Wear appropriate clothes, especially walking shoes for the 600m walk to the cave, and clothes for the Texan climate. Also bring some water and probably something to eat during the four hours. Do not plan to leave on time, as the end time of the tour differs. A small torch may be usefull for the walk back in the dark, but is otherwise useless.

The bats normally leave the cave at nightfall to feed on insects. During the night they eat the equivalent of their own body weight, the complete colony consumes some 200 tons of insects every night. In 2011, because of a drought there were fewer insects in the air, the bats are forced to spend more time hunting, As a result they left one hour eariler during sunset. This fact is good for the public viewings, as the bats are better visible for the visitors. Unfortunately it is also dangerous for the bats, as they are hunted during this hour by Cooper's hawks and red tail hawks.

The bats stay at Bracken Bat Cave for the summer and use it as a nursery, during winter they move to Mexico. The cave is visited by the bats for some 5,000 years now, and their guano has produced a 20m thick layer on the cave floor. During the Civil War the nitrogen rich guano was mined to make gun powder. The cave entrance was guarded by Texas solders, who lived in barracks nearby, which are still standing. Today the guano is still mined every second year using a sort of vacuum cleaner, and is sold as a natural fertilizer. This is done during winter, when no bats live in the cave.


See also


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