Saturday, January 31, 2009
Category: Pets and Animals
Okay, so I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before, but we have bats.There's a colony that lives under the eaves on the left side of our roof.
Don't worry. There's a screen there so they aren't getting into the house. But I have to water and wash away the mass amounts of guano that piles up on the left side of the carport.Don't let rabies scare you. Less than 1% of -all- bats tested have come up with rabies, and only a grand total of 35 people has gotten rabies from bats in the last 50 years. And don't bother telling me about histoplasmosis-- I researched all that stuff 2 years ago when I realized the bats where there and after I made sure they couldn't get into the roof. Actually, since it ISN'T confined in a roof, it's healthy bat crap. (lol).
But that's actually why I'm writing this blog. There's a couple of things going on. First, I believe our colony is part of the endangered species protected in Alabama. Second, we actually LIKE our bats. Ours in not only a mating colony, but a winter roost. As a result, we have well over 50 bats at any given time. Third, we need all the help we can get when it comes to eating bugs down here!
But directly below them is the perfect spot for my summer squash, cucumbers, zucchinni and water melons. And I don't want guano falling on the food we intend to eat.I've been playing with the idea of a bat house off and on for the last 2 years. This year, it's going to happen. But we have to have it up by the end of March.
That's where the difficulty of having a colony that both mates and winters comes in. We don't want to disturb them while they're hybernating for winter-- they'll starve. But we need to get them moved BEFORE they start having their pups or the pups could die. I'll listen for them chittering-- that's the sign that says they're waking up from their hybernation.
After we have the bat house put up (we're going to do a thick backed wood with a screen and a front that pretty much mimics identically where they're living now to make their transition easier.), we're going to wait for the chittering. Then, I'm going to climb up into the attic with a light and an oscilating fan. It's a harmless way that -should- make our attic spot quite unappealing-- with a MUCH more appealing spot not 3 feet away (and NOT over my soon to be vegetable garden!)
Now, the biggest reason we've haven't already done it, is previous to this, I'd look up bat house (for purchase or making) and didn't like them.
They're all variations of this. And I'm sure it's fine and all-- but it doesn't look a THING like where our bats are living. How would they even know that's supposed to be their new home? What I've WANTED to do is find a way to just take our gables and move them... and -finally- I've come across an article that says we were right to wait and to go with this plan (:
The Suburban Bat House
"Specifically designed for Urban and Suburban areas.
The gable-vent design of the Suburban Bat House gives Suburban bats exactly what they're already trained to use; a gable vent.
The gable-vent design of the Suburban Bat House
make my living by evicting colonies of bats (very gently of course)
from houses in suburban areas. I find that most of my customers truly
like bats and many are fascinated with them.. On almost every job I
hear - "We like bats, I mean, we realize that they eat mosquitoes
and that they are an important part of the environment but we just
don't want them in our house!" Then I am asked the Bat House Question - "We'd like to keep the bats in the area to eat the mosquitoes. What if we put up a bat house? Would that make them stay?"
years I have told my customers not to bother buying and installing
traditional bat houses in our area because the success rate associated
with them is so low in our area. I have never been comfortable telling
people "No, bats in our area very rarely use traditional bat houses" so I was always researching ways to create a bat house that would actually work in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Suburban Bat Colony Research
Gable Vent, a common entry-point
In an average year I will inspect over 300 houses that are infested
with bats. This has given me the opportunity to study and document the
ways in which bats enter and exit houses in suburban areas. I have
found that most common entry-point and/or landing area on a house is
the gable vent. Bats find these vents so attractive because they
provide both shade and a constant air-flow from the attic. Bats will
land on the blades of these vents and then crawl inside. If the factory
bug screen on the inside of the vent is loose or missing the bats will
make their way into the attic. If the bug screen on the inside of the
vents is intact the bats will not be able to gain access to the attic
but they will still roost under the blades and use the vent as an
exterior roost as shown in the pictures below. Bats will roost behind
these blades of the vent during the daylight hours and leave shortly
after dusk to go out and feed on mosquitoes only to return before
daylight to repeat the process.
Fact 80-90% of the bat population in suburban areas resides in houses, attics and other man-made structures.
How it started
Bats love gable vents!
Bats love gable vents!
In July of 2004 I performed a bat removal service
at a home in a small sub-division and evicted a few dozen bats that
were entering through the gable vents. Two weeks later I got a call
from their neighbor that lived two houses down. She now had these bats
in her gable vents and also wanted them evicted. Then while I was doing
that job I nudged two bats out of the gable vent that I was working on
and watched them fly in a big circle and enter the vent in the next
house over. I already knew that bats were attracted to gable vents but
this job showed me just how much these bats seek them out and are
trained to use them.
Bats love gable vents!
Bats love gable vents!
If these suburban bats are so determined to roost in gable vents
than why not build a bat house that closely resembles one? I began
experimenting with different designs and finally settled on a very
simple design that closely resembles a gable vent. I have since
installed the Suburban bat house in a variety of different situations.
In houses that already had a history of bats I had 100% success. The
bat houses were used by bats in a matter of days.
When installed correctly, the Urban Bat House out-performed the
traditional bat house in Suburban areas 10-1. I attribute this to the
gable-vent design of this bat house and the fact that bats in suburban
areas are trained to use gable vents."
Now I'm trying to figure out how we'll heat it. It's not that they'll really need the heat in summer-- but they -will- in winter. Our attic is all sorts of warm, what with the heater up there and all (; And as I've mentioned before, we want to KEEP our bats. We just don't want them right where they are now (:
So wish us (and our colony!) luck!