Tuesday, December 12, 2006

About Bats and Bathouses

After sending out an issue of a newsletter I did, one of our subscribers was kind enough to email me and fill me in on some juicy and very helpful details about bats and their housing. He has given me permission to share it with you:

"Little Brown Bats will only roost in a tree if it has a lot of exposure to the sun, which means mainly dead trees with exfoliating bark. Both Little and Big Brown Bats will not roost in bat houses mounted on trees in the shade.

I am a member of Bat Conservation International's (www.batcon.org) North American Bat House Research Project and have had successful bat houses now for 6 years. Unfortunately there are a lot of pictures out there which mistakenly show bat houses mounted on trees. In Europe this will work because they have different species over there.

Here in the USA, the most common bats we have inhabiting bat houses are Little and Big Brown Bats and Mexican Free-tailed Bats in the south. They all require significant exposure to the sun for warmth. This is especially important for mothers while they are raising their young.

I have been corresponding with John Schaust, Head Naturalist with Wild Birds Unlimited about changing their pamphlet which shows a bat house mounted on a tree. They have since changed their online pamplet to show a bat house mounted on a pole in full sun. They will be distributing new pamplets to all their stores this spring.

Another tip: Bats will inhabit houses mounted on a building quicker than those on a pole because they always explore roof lines looking for places to get in. They love attics because the large amount of space, when heated during the day, stays warm throughout the night.

There is a really good forum on bat houses which I highly recomend: www.batnic.org. This forum, along with BCI's bat house researcher archives are two of the best sources of info on bat houses I've found on the net. The neat thing about building a bat house is that you can build a nice one for almost nothing out of one or two old pallets.

This past summer I had 4 maternity colonies of bats in my bat houses, 2 each of Little Brown and Big Brown, totaling around 200 bats. I experiment each year and learn a little bit more each year and I am really excited about next year!" Terry Lobdell

Thank you so much, Terry, for sharing your knowledge and findings with us.

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