Bat Houses and More Bat Facts

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iStockphoto.com/Jerome Whittingham
Bat houses high in a tree.

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Bat houses

Just because you prefer not to have bats inside your house and outbuildings doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits of having a colony or two around your home. Bat houses are artificial structures that can be constructed or purchased and placed near gardens or other suitable areas. BCI states that homeowners, farmers, organic gardeners, foresters and recreation managers around the world are installing bat houses for education and pest reduction. Bat house plans or ready-made bat houses may be purchased at BCI’s website or by calling 800-538-2287.

The Wisconsin DNR offers free bat house design and instruction at its website (www.DNR.state.wi.us), and plans and instruction also are available on the Minnesota DNR site, or write to: Minnesota DNR Nongame Wildlife Program, Box 25, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.

To repel or not to repel

The Minnesota DNR lists a few suggestions that may be used to keep bats away before they pose a problem. The following suggestions may have limited success:

  • Mothballs (Naphthalene) – used as a repellant but requires large quantities that can create odor problems, which may be hazardous to humans.
  • Dog and cat repellants – useful at temporary roost sites such as porches, carports and behind shutters. Effective for a couple of months, but never should be directly sprayed on bats.
  • Bright Lights – placed in attics, may disturb bats enough for them to leave or it may just cause them to move to a more concealed area. Caution should also be exercised to avoid electrical hazards caused by the amount of light necessary to disturb the bats.
    Ultrasonic devices are not considered effective in repelling bats, and the Minnesota DNR recommends that you be wary of any pest control company that recommends its use or the use of toxic chemicals. No chemicals are currently registered in Minnesota for use on bats, and the use of chemicals may also increase the risk of humans or pets coming into contact with sick or dying bats.

Interesting bat facts 

  • Bats are clean animals that groom themselves almost all the time.
  • More than 1,000 species are known.
  • Most bats give birth to one “pup” each year, making them one of the slowest reproducing mammals on earth based on their size.
  • They help in pollination of crops and seed dispersal.
  • Life span is 20 to 30 years.
  • Little Brown Bats are one of the world’s most long-lived mammals with a life expectancy of up to 40 years.