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bats on the move

 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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How does one move a bat house full of bats?  I thought I had found the perfect location under the eave at the peak of a two story roof on the north side of the house.  Cooler in the summer and protected in the winter, but evidently they poop just as they fly back in and it gets flipped onto the house and nearby window.  I thought it would just fall straight down and I could catch it there and use it in the garden!        Anyone with any batty ideas?
 
paul wheaton
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So, you have a bat house full of bats?

Cuz, if you do, this is huge news.  I've heard of lots of people buying or building bat houses and putting them up, but you would be the first person I've ever heard of with a bat house with bats in it!


 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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Yes, and they are packed in there like...........bats!

I actually have two more on the barn that are working well.   Nice little pile of guano on the ground underneath.    Its so potent nothing is growing in it.     

I guess I can staple screen or cloth over the opening when I move it.    I'm just wondering if they will be able to find the box after I move it.   Maybe it is a winter project.   They are probably having babies now.    Bad time to move them.
 
Dave Boehnlein
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Location: Orcas Island, WA
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I don't know that much about bats, but I think they migrate during the winter, don't they? If so, that should mean the bat house will empty out at some point and winter would be perfect for moving them.

If I'm wrong about the migration thing, it seems like you would want to wait until late summer when young have been reared. Then move it during the night when no one is home. They will likely find some other place to roost the following morning and seek out their home again the following night. This also might be a good question for a bat expert somewhere. I think the University of Kansas has a fairly big bat program.

Good luck!

Dave
 
Gwen Lynn
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Yes, congrats on da bats! I was given a bat house recently, but I'm hesitant to put it up. It's likely the wasps around here will take it over before the bats have a chance. Any suggestions?
 
Susan Monroe
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Location: Western WA
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Gwen, bats eat wasps.

"Hey, looky here, Honey!  A new house and dinner is ready!"

Sue
 
Gwen Lynn
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Obviously, I didn't know bats ate wasps. The bats I see around here are pretty tiny. Big red wasps are pretty aggressive. I just assumed they would run the bats off, like they do everything else. Or the bats wouldn't find the house & the wasps would end up being a nuisance living in the bat house.
 
Susan Monroe
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Well, I didn't know they ate wasps, either, until I saw your post, and started looking around! 

Then I thought, wasps are diurnal and are sleeping when bats are out.  Sleeping prey... it probably doesn't get much easier than that!

Sue
 
Gwen Lynn
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It makes sense. I will find the right spot to hang my bat house & we'll see what happens.

Here's a pic of a bat making do with house that could fly away in a strong wind. On a cool sunny summer morning I went out to open the patio umbrella. After it starts to unfold you have to bend underneath it to open it the rest of the way. So as it's opening I'm looking up and wondering what that shadow is! Imagine my surprise when I pulled my head out to see batgirl! (dunno if it was a female, I just liked "Batgirl"!) So I got my camera and she was still there for a picture. She was not happy I disturbed her resting place!
batgirl.jpg
[Thumbnail for batgirl.jpg]
 
Susan Monroe
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Location: Western WA
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If your Batgirl has to sleep in a place like that, I guess you do need some bat houses around there!

Sue
 
Gwen Lynn
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It's pretty interesting, Sue. Bat life in Okla.

When it's really hot here and very dry (no rain or humidity for days), a bat or 2 will fly by, swoop down & drink out of our (above ground) swimming pool. I hunker down & watch for them, usually just after the sun has set. They don't do this if it's dewy in the mornings, even on a hot day.

Before we bought this house, we lived in a 2nd flr apt. in the city. (We're in a suburb now, that still has open land around it, mostly east, west & south.) One of the apts across from us had a wall panel hanging loose from the top/side of the building, creating a sort of an urban cave for bats.

We'd see them come out of their "cave" every nite. At the time we had 2 cats & would let them out on our balcony which had an exterior light. So the cats are out there, just hanging out & I see one of them jump straight up in the air & take something down to the ground. I assumed it was a bird & rushed out the sliding glass door.

My cat was hunkered down over something, I'm looking down at him, telling him to stop & out shoots this wing, from the side of his head...and it wasn't a bird wing! It all happened so fast, I still don't know how we got it away from the cat fast enough for the bat to not get shredded.

Quick thinking dh even had sense enough to put on a glove when I hollered that it was a bat. So we got the bat & it had a blood spot on it. Wasn't sure whose blood it was...cat or bat's. So we kept the bat in a big fishbowl with a screen for a top until the next day. He just hung upside down from the screen all nite. I know it may sound stupid, but we thought it might give the cat rabies (Cat hadn't had a shot in a couple of years & I was...well naive!) Heck, I'm from Chicago!

It was way cool to look at a bat really close up & after talking to a vet the next evening we let the bat go. He seemed fine & happy to fly back to his urban bat cave. It was a little brown bat, much like the one in the pic.
 
Susan Monroe
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Location: Western WA
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I saw my mother's cat leap up like that after dark, and she had caught a bat, too.  I just grabbed her by her scruff and put her in the house, then scooped up the bat with a nearby trowel and put it in a plant pot that was touching the trunk of a tree.  It was gone in the morning.  It didn't weigh much more than a few cotton balls.

From U of IA Hospitals & Clinics
http://www.uihealthcare.com/reports/internalmedicine/030915batrabies.html

"Big brown bats, a colonial species, are very common in Iowa homes and do sustain rabies activity; all 27 positive bats in 2002 were big browns.  Little brown bats, also a colonial species, but less commonly found in Iowa homes, rarely develop rabies."

Sue
 
Dave Miller
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Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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One of the best sources of info on bats is Bat Conservation International: http://www.batcon.org/

If you have a bat house full of bats and you need to move it, you should do so during the winter.  Your profile says you are in northern California which means your bats likely spend the winter in a cave or mine somewhere, or perhaps an unheated attic.

Bats usually prefer houses that get a lot of sun, thus a north-facing location is kind of unusual.  But they do move roost locations frequently based on temperature needs, parasites, etc.

I am pretty sure that bats do not eat wasps.  Little & Big Brown bats eat mostly night-flying insects such as moths, beetles, mosquitoes, etc.  I have never heard of one eating a wasp.  Wasps do build nests in bat houses, but generally speaking the bats and wasps leave each other alone, even when sharing a bat house.

In the wild, most bats in North America roost under bark that is exfoliating from dead trees (during the spring and summer), or in cavities in trees or cliffs.  Thus any location that resembles exfoliating bark will seem like a good roosting spot to a bat.  As Gwen noted, closed patio umbrellas are a good example.  Other common places are behind loose siding (especially cedar shakes), in wood piles, under barbecue covers, etc.  When they cannot find tree cavities they will use attics, wall cavities, and yes, belfries.

It is rare for bats to get rabies (something like 0.5% of bats will ever get rabies).  If they do contract rabies they do not live long, so the chances of you encountering a sick bat are slim.   But if you ever see a bat on the ground, it is probably sick or injured, and whatever you do, do not pick it up with bare hands.   Like any wild animal they will bite you if you try to pick them up.  BCI has a good page on dealing with found bats:  http://www.batcon.org/index.php/education/40-bats-and-the-public/67-living-in-harmony.html

If you are interested in bat houses, there is a great bat house discussion forum here: http://bathouseforum.org/
 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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adunca wrote:
One of the best sources of info on bats is Bat Conservation International: http://www.batcon.org/

If you have a bat house full of bats and you need to move it, you should do so during the winter.  Your profile says you are in northern California which means your bats likely spend the winter in a cave or mine somewhere, or perhaps an unheated attic.

Bats usually prefer houses that get a lot of sun, thus a north-facing location is kind of unusual.  But they do move roost locations frequently based on temperature needs, parasites, etc.

I am pretty sure that bats do not eat wasps.  Little & Big Brown bats eat mostly night-flying insects such as moths, beetles, mosquitoes, etc.  I have never heard of one eating a wasp.  Wasps do build nests in bat houses, but generally speaking the bats and wasps leave each other alone, even when sharing a bat house.

In the wild, most bats in North America roost under bark that is exfoliating from dead trees (during the spring and summer), or in cavities in trees or cliffs.  Thus any location that resembles exfoliating bark will seem like a good roosting spot to a bat.  As Gwen noted, closed patio umbrellas are a good example.  Other common places are behind loose siding (especially cedar shakes), in wood piles, under barbecue covers, etc.  When they cannot find tree cavities they will use attics, wall cavities, and yes, belfries.

It is rare for bats to get rabies (something like 0.5% of bats will ever get rabies).  If they do contract rabies they do not live long, so the chances of you encountering a sick bat are slim.   But if you ever see a bat on the ground, it is probably sick or injured, and whatever you do, do not pick it up with bare hands.   Like any wild animal they will bite you if you try to pick them up.  BCI has a good page on dealing with found bats:  http://www.batcon.org/index.php/education/40-bats-and-the-public/67-living-in-harmony.html

If you are interested in bat houses, there is a great bat house discussion forum here: http://bathouseforum.org/


Thanks,   Thats a lot of good info.   I put the houses on the east and north because we have long hot summers here and I thought direct south facing exposure would be too hot.  Is that correct?
 
Dave Miller
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Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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Here is BCI's page on bat houses: http://www.batcon.org/index.php/conservation/topics/bat-houses/subcategory.html?layout=subcategory

Location, color, mass, height, ventilation are all important bat house criteria.  The fact that your houses were occupied means you met the bats' needs.

Generally speaking bats like their houses to be quite warm, 90-100 degrees for a nursery colony.  Males like them a bit cooler.  That usually means some amount of sun exposure.  The BCI page above has all the info you'll need.

Dave
 
rose macaskie
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My grandmothers house in Cheshire, in England, had a bit of hot pipe that ran outside the house instead of indoors, crazy, and bats collected there. England is not a very hot place. I don't remember if they collected in summer or winter. rose macaskie
 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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gary wrote:
How does one move a bat house full of bats?   I thought I had found the perfect location under the eave at the peak of a two story roof on the north side of the house.   Cooler in the summer and protected in the winter, but evidently they poop just as they fly back in and it gets flipped onto the house and nearby window.   I thought it would just fall straight down and I could catch it there and use it in the garden!        Anyone with any batty ideas?

  Just wanted to report back that the bat house move was successful.  We duct taped the opening while we moved the houses to an oak tree about 80' away around mid-day and a box placed beneath the tree has been catching guano ever since [about two months now].  No lost bats trying to nest at the old location, so I guess they have great homing abilities.  Gary
 
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