Attract Bats

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Black flying-foxBats eat the same insects that would otherwise interrupt your backyard birding pleasure. Therefore, they are the best friend of the backyard birder. Not only do they eat their body weight in insects, approximately 600 or more insects every hour, but they also help pollinate, and produce guano, an excellent fertilizer.

A bat house is like organic bug control because no pesticides are needed to keep the pests off your plants. Add a water source nearby for the whole colony to drink from, which will also help keep the mom near her young. Once bats find a new roost, they will loyally return for years as a place to stay and raise their young.

Because bats are accustomed to living in colonies, a secure and undisturbed roosting spot is an excellent way to nurture the healthy growth of an entire colony of bats. Bat shelters mounted against a house retain heat better than those mounted elsewhere and are less accessible to predators. An area with 20 feet of open space in front of the shelter provides easy access for the bats and the house may be left up year-round.

Based on information reported to the Organization for Bat Conservation, successful bat houses are painted brown, black, or left au naturel; mounted 15-18 feet above the ground, and placed in a sunny spot where it can receive 10 hours or more of direct sunlight. Following these guidelines ensures the house maintains the necessities for bats to survive.

Bat houses are often considered “no maintenance.” But it’s still a good idea to check each house once a season for wear and tear; if the wood is warped, then it’s not as warm or secure anymore and should be repaired or replaced.

Bats can live to be 30 years old, yet they only birth one pup a year. Help bats ease into retirement by giving them everything they need to survive with shelter and water. Their low birth rate makes them more prone to extinction, so make a point to support the bats in your area. Shop bat houses at

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  • Aaron October 15, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Hi. I’m in kind of a dilemma here. A family/pack(coven?) of large beautiful bats has apparently taken up residence in my neighbors attic. I noticed them a few weeks ago by accident. Now I sit quietly at dusk and usually can see them as they all slip out of the gable end of the attic adjacent to my driveway, one by one. They seem large for Northern Virginia, but it could just be the lighting and my angle. They fly about, around my yard and several of the neighbors. I’m quite taken with the experience of watching them. So what’s the dilemma? Well, my neighbor is a single mother with a three year old. Both bedrooms are right under where they have taken up residence and deploy. If I mention it (dilemma), she will likely invoke a nuclear option and have them destroyed by a pest control company. My immediate thoughts are, what risks are involved (guano, mainly; they don’t appear to be vampires at this point 🙂 ). I rather enjoy my bit of voyeurism as they emerge and go about their business in the evening, but I don’t want to put anyone, especially the little girl, at risk by my silence. I have a rather extensive wood shop, and have places to put the relatively inexpensive bat houses around my property, but would I be able to coax them out of the expansive attic into my little condos? I fear they will be blasted out with chemical weapons. I would really hate to see them destroyed, or otherwise hurt by a nerve agent, but I know she couldn’t afford to have them trapped and relocated – or wait for them to move into my ‘condos’. Sorry this wall of text got long, but I do have a moral and/or ethical dilemma going on. Please reply if you can. I may post the gist of this on a few other sites. Winter is coming on strong here. They have established themselves, and Batman himself with a twirling sign probably isn’t going to convince them to move next door. Thanks, Aaron

    • Heidi Babb January 29, 2015 at 10:21 am

      Thank you for your question regarding your neighbor’s bats on the Duncraft Wild Bird Blog. I love bats, and share your concern for them. I’m also fond of humans, and can see why you’re on the horns of a dilemma here. You’ll be pleased to know that it is not lawful in your state to poison bats.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) has an article called “Take Caution When Bats are Near.” They talk about the dangers of rabies and other diseases that can be carried by bats although strangely, they don’t talk about vampires at all. They have some useful information about bat-proofing your home and dealing safely with the animals.

      The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries provides the best information I have found. You can read their article called Bats, which talks about dealing with them from a nuisance perspective. They note that less than ½ of 1% of all bats have rabies. Again, no mention of vampires. Weird, right? There is a second article called Bat Facts, which may help you identify your neighbor’s tenants.

      The Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation and the USDA Forest Service also have some useful information online. You might also like to take a look at the Bat Conservation International Site.

      Since you asked for my opinion, I will say that if I knew my neighbor had bats in her attic (or belfry) I would let her know so she can take the precautions she feels is best for her and her family. However, as a bat lover, I would do my best to help guide her to the most bat-friendly solutions possible. If I knew that lack of funds might cause her to make a decision that I would regret, I might offer to give financial help to achieving a solution that was important to me.

      I hope that you and your neighbor will find a positive solution to this dilemma. Bats have enough problems without us causing more.