By JULIE BRUSER (printed in the August 2007 Territory Times)
Perhaps it’s their unusual appearance or their portrayal in literature and movies that makes many people afraid of bats. In reality, humans are rarely harmed by bats and bats are, in fact, very beneficial to us.
Let’s address the fear factor first. In the United States., one person dies each year due to bat-transmitted rabies. Compare that to 10 people who die each year from dog bites. The most common species of bats in the Midwest do not transmit rabies and feed only on insects. The vampire bat, as seen in movies, is found only in South America and does not feed on human blood, but on the blood of cattle.
Bats are very helpful to farmers, foresters and all people by reducing agricultural pests, tree pests, and mosquitoes. Scientists estimate that the little brown bat, the most common bat in North America, eats up to 1,200 insects in one hour. Imagine the number of mosquitoes and other pests that would survive without bats to feed on them. They are truly a “natural pesticide.”
Obviously, we don’t want bats inside our houses. The best way to prevent that from happening is to be sure your house is properly sealed. If one should accidentally enter your house, open a window and shine a flashlight out the window in the dark and it will follow the light outside.
Little Brown Bats, while hibernating can reduce their heart rate to 20 beats per minute and can stop breathing for 48 minutes at a time. Little Brown Bats can hibernate for more than seven months if left undisturbed.
Desert eco systems rely on nectar feeding bats as primary pollinators of giant cacti.
A nursing little brown bat mother can eat more than her body weight nightly (up to 4,500 insects).
Less than 1 percent of all bats contract rabies, and usually bite in self defense.
A mother Mexican Free-tailed Bat can produce more than five times as much milk as an average Holstein cow.
Almost 40 percent of American bat species are threatened or endangered.
The loss of bats contributes to an imbalance in nature that helps cause increases in use of toxic pesticides that threaten our heath and environment.
Providing bat houses can help build the populations of many valuable bat species. Providing houses furnishes places for bats to roost, hibernate and raise young. This is, in addition to and when, natural sites are not available.
Most likely to inhabit bat houses are little brown bats, big brown bats, eastern pipistrelle and the eastern long-eared bat.
In the northern two thirds of the U.S. and Canada, most bats migrate south in the winter. Most bats that inhabit bat houses will move to caves, or mines. Tree roosting bats will fly south.
Bats find houses by sight. If a house in the proper location, meets the requirements and is needed, the bats will move in on their own.
The majority of bats that use houses are females using the house as nurseries.
BAT HOUSE PLACEMENT
Bat boxes should be hung at least 15’ above the ground-the higher, the better. Research shows that they are more successful if they have at least 8 hours of sun. The morning sun is most important. Bat houses should face the south or southeast. In northern areas the top third of the house should be painted brown or black with a latex water base paint to aid in warming the box. In southern parts of the country, the boxes can be painted latex water base white, if there is too much direct sun. Bat houses mounted 20’ away from trees are inhabited twice as quickly as those in wooded areas.
This site was last updated on 5/21/2013 9:48 PM
Copyright Galena Territory Association. All rights reserved.