Bats have long been maligned by humans -- a taboo, a creature to be shunned. These little furry animals that fly seemed to be half-bird, half-mammal, and looked ugly.
But today they are being given their proper recognition as valuable to mankind in the ecological system. Many plants, such as bananas and the endangered saguaro cactus, are dependent upon bats for pollination because they bloom at night. Bats are also responsible for 95% of the reforestation of the tropical rain forests through their dispersal of seeds.
Their immediate appeal to most people is their enormous capacity for consuming insects. A nocturnal animal, the bat eats when the insects are out, in contrast to birds, which eat during the day. Some bat species consume half their weight in a night -- as many as 600 or more gnat-sized insects an hour!
A single little brown bat or Myotis lucifugas or the big brown bat or Eptesicus fuscus, some of the most abundant and widespread bats in North America, can eat 3,000 to 7,000 mosquitoes each night, and a bat can live to be 20 years old. That's a pretty effective insecticide, especially when you consider that it doesn't poison other creatures or make holes in the ozone layer!
Bats are misunderstood creatures that are generally quite harmless to people. They do not become tangled in your hair, nor do they attack humans. Contrary to misconceptions, disease transmission from bats to people is easily avoided. Never handle bats and the odds of being harmed will be extremely remote.
In more than four decades, public health records indicate that only 16 people in the United States and Canada have died of bat-borne diseases... Placed in perspective, this means that the odds of anyone dying of a disease from a bat are much less than one in a million. In contrast, in the United States alone more than 10 people die annually from dog attacks, not to mention dog- and cat-transmitted diseases. - Dr. Merlin D. Tuttle, America's Neighborhood Bats, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1988. In contrast, several children in a million are likely to die each year from encephalitis contracted through a mosquito bite.
In the Orient these gentle animals are symbols of good luck, long life and happiness. They are meticulous in their grooming, spending a fair part of the day and night combing and grooming their fur.
When bats fly, they navigate by means of an sophisticated echolocation system. The bat sends out signals of sound energy, which are reflected back, giving it the location of an object as well as its texture and other characteristics. They can avoid a single human hair with extreme accuracy, even in total darkness, giving lie to the myth that bats are blind.
Bats are feeling the housing crunch as much as people, with their favorite old hollow trees, barns, and old houses disappearing. For this reason many bats are choosing bat houses as permanent roosting sites.
In order for bat houses to be successful they need to meet specific criteria, such as, narrow crevices at the bottom for bats to enter and screened or rough surfaces inside for them to hold onto. A bat house should be hung at least 10 to 15 feet above the ground, sheltered from the wind, and unobstructed by obstacles to flying, such as power lines and tree branches. Bat houses located near a source of water, especially a marsh, lake or stream, are most likely to attract bats, as this habitat attracts insects and provides a plentiful food supply for the bats. To keep the interior very warm, place the house on the side of a building or tree which receives several hours of morning or afternoon sun 100-110 degrees F is required by nursery colonies. If you are located in a cooler climate you may want to add tar paper or dark colored shingles to the bat house roof to help warm the house. If you are located in a warmer climate the bat house can be painted a beige or tan color using latex pain, or mounted as is. The pine wood will weather nicely to an attractive silver gray color which blends well with outdoor environments.
During winter months bats living in Canada and the northern two-thirds of the US migrate south or to nearby caves for a period of hibernation, as most bat species cannot survive subfreezing temperatures.
Bats are in need of protection if they are to survive. They have proven themselves as valuable members of our ecosystem, and we must increase the awareness of people who have the ability to protect or to destroy these little creatures.
Bats are declining, world-wide, at an alarming rate, due to human misunderstanding. They have typically only one offspring per year, making their comeback slow and in need of our help.
These bat houses are handcrafted of select, kiln-dried eastern white pine for durability, attractiveness, and insulation qualities. The walls are thick to keep the interior warm. They are rough-sawn to provide a surface for the bats to hang onto.
Inside are several partitions, because bats like narrow spaces, and this allows more surface room for roosting bats. The houses are open at the bottom to eliminate the need for cleaning, and to prevent birds from nesting in the house.
Frequently Asked Questions