Why is the Spurs arena invaded by bats so often?

Tonight, during the game between San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves, there was another interruption of the game due to a bat that was flying inside the AT&T Center.. Immediately the Spurs mascot swooped onto the field, Coyote, disguised as Batman with a net, with which, after many attempts, she caught the animal. This is not the first time a bat has invaded the San Antonio arena; in fact, it is something that happens often. The most egregious case was in 2009, when Manu Ginobili even caught the bat with his hands, sending the audience into raptures.

But why is the Spurs arena so prone to these episodes? Elsewhere it doesn’t happen. The reason is the proximity of the facility to the Bracken Cave, a cave that is only 25 miles away and is home to over 15 million Tadarida brasiliensis, a bat species also commonly known as the Mexican free-tailed bat. From April to September, these animals migrate to Mexico, but in winter they return to Bracken Cave where female specimens give birth and raise their young. The Spurs arena is right “passing through” for these animals, and some of them end up in it on the way, attracted by lights or looking for warmth.

According to another hypothesis, the AT&T Center would contain inside (and perhaps still contain) a fairly warm crevice where insects, birds, and even bats could find shelter during the winter cold, although the Spurs have never wanted to comment on these rumors, probably for fear of disincentivizing attendance.

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Francesco Manzi
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