Please see our Cave Tours page for information on how to prepare for your visit.
Desert Night Life on the Wing
Guided Bat Walks at the Park
Kartchner Caverns is proud to offer Bat Conservation International-guided Bat Walks. Check our events page for dates and times. As the sunset paints the desert, the little winged mammals to take flight, foraging for insects and pollen. Come join us as we experience the beautiful desert evening, keeping in mind that we can’t guarantee that the wildlife will cooperate 100% of the time. The walk will be slightly over a half mile and last an hour and a half.
To prepare for the walk, visitors are highly encourage to bring the following:
- Comfortable shoes
- Insect repellent or long sleeves
- Flashlight with red cover (red covers can be provided)
- Headlamp with red light setting
- Black light for children (can also illuminate scorpions)
Allowed but not required:
- Personal bat detector
- Night-vision equipment
- Camera (if using a phone as your camera, please set it to silent)
Did You Know?
There are a total of 28 different species of bats in Arizona! There are 13 species that you may hear or see along the walk, and occasionally a few other species may be traveling through.
There are 1,462 species of bats in the world, and 28 are in this state, and 13 species come to the park. Bats are a keystone species, meaning they are important to the ecosystems and scientists can judge how healthy an ecosystem is by how many bats are there.
Bats are the only flying mammal and communicate and navigate using echolocation and sonar. They speak in frequencies too high for us to hear. Out of the bats at the park, most are insectivores, but the Mexican long-tongued bat and the lesser nosed bat are both pollinators. These bats take pollen from blooming plants, like agaves, and also pollinate other plants. Bats are very helpful and eat thousands of bugs (which is good for us!).
Most bat species have only one baby a year and may live from 10 to 40 years. Bats can beat their wings 12 to 17 times a second. Bats have been around for as long as 52 million years, and have been in our cavern around 45,000 years.
Bats Found at the Park
- Myotis Velifer (common cave bat)
- Mexican/Brazilian free-tailed bat
- Canyon bat
- Pallid bat
- Big brown bat
- Silver-haired bat
- California myotis
- Western small-footed myotis
- Southwestern myotis
- Lesser long-nosed bat
- Mexican long-tongued bat
- Fringed myotis
- Townsend’s big-eared bat
During the walk, we will use phones, an iPad and the following bat detectors:
- Wildlife Acoustics Echo Meter 2 Android and Apple version with the Echo Meter app
- Batbox Baton
How You Can Help
If you find a bat in distress at home, please contact a local bat rehabber who can access the situation. Do not attempt to pick it up bare handed; be sure to use gloves if it needs to be lifted and moved to shaded tree. Bats cannot take off from the ground. In Arizona, these are local bat rescues, but your local Game and Fish, US Fish and Wildlife, or Bat World Sanctuary websites can provide help.
- AZ Bat Rehabbers
- AZ Bat Rescue - Hally Cokenias: (480) 313-2243
- Northern AZ Bat Rescue - Amy Kravitz: (928) 255-3692 or Bonnie Stewart: (928) 853-1964
Here are some ways we can support bats in our daily lives:
- Plant a garden using native plants, like desert lavender, penstemon, evening primrose, goldenrod, moonflower, or night-scented phlox.
- Keep your hummingbird feeder out at night and clean it when it’s emptied before refilling it (bats like sugar, too!)
- Invest in a frog log or wildlife ramp if you have a pool.
- Don’t use pesticides.
- Keep your cat inside, especially at night.
- Don’t fumigate your home with bats inside. Bats are protected in Arizona, so please contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department for assistance.
- Don’t use glue traps outside. Bats have very thin bones and thin skin and will tear and break bones trying to escape.
- Leave dead trees and snags if they aren’t posing a threat. Bats will use them as roosts.
- Don’t use fake webbing outside your home around Halloween. Wildlife can get caught, leaving them exposed to predators.
- Turn your outside lights off when you don’t need them.
- Volunteer for a bat rescue as a transporter and bat hero!