Without bats, there is no tequila. Tequila is exclusively produced from the blue agave, and the lesser long-nosed bat is the plant’s primary pollinator. Bats feed on the nectar of agave flowers and hop from flower to flower carrying with them the pollen to fertilize other plants. However, industrial practices used for the production of tequila this past century have led to the loss of the genetic diversity of the agaves and to the loss of an important food source for the lesser long-nosed bat, first listed as a threatened species in Mexico in 1994.
To help with this bat’s conservation, the IUCN and ecologist Rodrigo Medellin work with liquor brands to make them “bat-friendly.” Currently, seven brands of tequila and three brands of mezcal have this label. To qualify, all they need to do is to allow at least 5% of their agave plants to flower, let the bats come and pollinate, and use the resulting seeds to replant their fields. These requirements are checked every year.