Creatures of the Night

Bats: nocturnal, winged mammals that usually bring images of caped crusaders or Transylvanian fiends to mind. But the truth is, these harmless and fascinating creatures need good homes in which to roost. Bats need bat houses.

photo

Ann Froschauer/USFWS

Little Brown Bat

Bats are losing a lot of habitat because they normally like to roost in dead or dying trees,” explains Organization for Bat Conservation Director Kim Williams. “Bat houses provide a place for the bats to live.” Typically made of untreated plywood or cedar, bat houses should be placed high up on a freestanding steel pole or near the top of a building or house. They should be located at least 15 feet from the ground in an area that is free from obstruction.

“A location for a bat house is hard to find,” says Chris Mahoney, volunteer with the Chattanooga Nature Center and Arboretum. “Trees don’t work because bats find the house by their echolocation.” She explains that the branches obstruct the bats’ sense of sight.

Bats eat bugs, so they are great to have around your home. Bats not only eat mosquitoes, they also feast on June bugs and gypsy moths. “A bat can eat up to 1,000 insects a day,” says Mahoney. “A bat flying around you is not trying to get you — it’s trying to get the mosquitoes that are drawn to you.” She adds that the creatures are fun to watch in the evening as they hunt for their nightly meals.

LEARN MORE: To learn more about bats in general, download free bat house plans to build your own or order a bat house, visit the Organization for Bat Conservation’s website at www.batconservation.org.

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