Experience with bat houses anyone?
January 2, 2012 6:56 PM   Subscribe

I bought my 5 year a bat house from the bat conservancy for christmas. She is totally excited about putting it up. But I am starting to worry about guano, attracting bats to a residential area ( a neighborhood of .3 acre lots that backs up to a national forest) and annoying neighbors, getting buzzed by bats when I walk from the car at night. Any advice? Experience with bat houses?

My daughter read a book about bats and got really interested in them. I thought this was good, and followed the link to the bat conservancy website and bought the bat house and not its here, ready to go up and... I am getting worried.

The bat conservancy web site is, needless to say, encouraging. However, I would like some straight talk and real experience with what it is like to have a bat house on your property.

They recommend putting it on a pole or on the house. We have a stucco house which is not optimal. They like stone or brick or wood best (which sounds to me like they prefer a house that haunted, but they dont say that). Constructing a 20 foot pole doesn't seem like a great idea because we have 60 mph winds at times. So I am leaning towards attaching it to our house. They recommend south facing and that is the side of the house with the front door, etc.

So what is that like? This thing holds 300 bats. What is it like to have 300 bats coming and going at night? How do you get guano off of stucco? Do you get dead bats in your garden?
posted by alcahofa to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
No bat house, but I lived in a house with bats in the thatch; probably a colony of several thousand or more. The guano I've seen is like mouse droppings. It just needs sweeping, and makes great fertilizer. Never got buzzed or bothered. Every so often would see a dead bat but it was very rare because they mostly die far away from home.

The sad thing about bat houses is that not many of them see use. Bats are fussy. You may not get any bats.
posted by Pastor of Muppets at 7:02 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I used to live in a semi-urban area where there were a lot of bats. I saw them swooping through the light of street lights often, but never had an encounter with any. Now I live in a wooded area with few streetlights. I'll bet there are bats, but I don't see them. They're shy; they'll leave you alone unless you're a mosquito.

When I was young, bats occasionally nested in the A/C window unit, then came into the house, quite confused. Not sure who was more frightened, humans or bats. In any case, we opened the windows and shooed them out with a broom.
posted by theora55 at 7:06 PM on January 2, 2012

I live in the country. In the summer there are bats. They are cool, eat skeeters, and don't bother anyone. They don't divebomb you.
Put up the bat house.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:19 PM on January 2, 2012 [18 favorites]

Yes, you should prepare your daughter more for the possibility that you won't get bats, she may be disappointed when they don't show up. We had bats in the back yard, they never ever bothered us. It was cool to sit outside at dusk and watch them come out.
posted by raisingsand at 7:21 PM on January 2, 2012

That's great that your daughter is interested in bats! We got a bat house as well, but apparently we did not hang our bat house high enough (~12 feet high) - we never got any residents.

Bats will tend to avoid people - you may see them flying silently overhead but they typically will not come down and buzz around your head. As for the neighbors - they may be grateful for the insect control the bats provide.

You have probably read that some bats do carry rabies virus (though perhaps not as much as was previously thought). Thus it's important that if you ever do observe an ill bat on the ground, or a bat acting strangely, that you do not pick it up or attempt to capture it.
posted by scrambles at 7:28 PM on January 2, 2012

We put up a bat house on a tree overlooking our garage a few years ago. I have no idea if there are bats in it, but we definitely have bats in the yard-- we sometimes see them in the evening. Of course, we had them before putting up the house, too. They have never been a problem. I've never seen droppings or gotten buzzed. We wouldn't know they were there if we didn't actively look for them on summer evenings.
posted by instamatic at 7:30 PM on January 2, 2012

There are probably already many bats in your area during warm weather. There are even bats in dense urban areas, there are six varieties of bats native to New York. I see them in the summer during roof parties, lights attract insects and bats fly in circles to catch the insects, they never bother anyone and I stopped pointing them out because they made people nervous. Bats are everywhere.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:32 PM on January 2, 2012

I've never had any problems with my parent's bat house. They largely go unnoticed until someone wants to go out at dusk and actually stare at them. Their droppings get washed away with periodic rains, etc.
posted by introp at 8:04 PM on January 2, 2012

I grew up on a street (in the country) that had a lot of bats. They never bothered me, and watching them at night, swooping and flying is a happy childhood memory of mine. Put up the house, and I hope you get bats.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:34 PM on January 2, 2012

You're overthinking this - St. Alia of the Bunnies has it - Put up the bat house.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:55 PM on January 2, 2012

When I was a kid, we could toss small stones or sticks in the air and watch bats swoop down and divert at the last second. Lots of fun.
posted by shinynewnick at 9:12 PM on January 2, 2012

Shineyneenick, we did that too! I just paid a TON to have bats removed from the attic at a vacation home. They were over the garage, not an issue but the poop, like mouse droppings, was bad, we had A LOT of bats apparently. No killing, We just got them all out and put up screens. Want to get a bat house, they do really keep the bugs down. glad to know where to do that now.
posted by pearlybob at 9:33 PM on January 2, 2012

I have a bat house. All summer long you can sit on your porch/deck at night and never get bitten by a mosquito. Bats find them tasty.

Bats don't attack your hair.
posted by sandra_s at 9:39 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Boy, you'll be pretty lucky if you get 300 bats. I grew up in areas with bats and bat houses and I doubt we ever got that many. Guano never seemed to be an issue and the closest encounter I had with a bat was when my dad was re-hanging the shutters and a bat was sleeping behind one. And no bat attack there, bats really don't want to have anything to do with people.
posted by schroedinger at 10:03 PM on January 2, 2012

Bats are generally a boon to the environment when they get to an area. As sandra_s says, they'll eat mosquitos, as well as all sorts of other pests.

quickly, Robin! To the Bat Conservancy!
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:04 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

We've got bats up in the ancestral farmhouse in Maine. Bats are lovely. They're cute and shy and eat bugs and fertilize and look very cool at dusk.

Once a bat got into the house when I was just an infant - evidently nobody noticed except the cat who went crazy at my parents' closed bedroom door. It didn't want to be there any more than Mom wanted it to be. She went in, took out the window screens and left them open, put a big spare blanket over the bed, and closed the door. At night the bat had made its way out (she could tell because the cat calmed down) and she picked the blanket up and washed it just in case it had been be-guanoed.

You won't get dead bats in your garden because they are tasty snacks to other wildlife. If you are lacking in wildlife so much that nothing will eat a dead bat then you have bigger environmental problems on your hands than a couple winged mice on the ground.
posted by Mizu at 10:40 PM on January 2, 2012

If you back up onto a national forest, you're already getting buzzed by bats, you just don't notice because they realize you're not a mosquito and are back on the hunt long before your are aware of their presence.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:53 PM on January 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

My parents have a bat house right next to the back deck, never had any issues with being dive bombed or any problems with the bats. Bats are very cool, I'd definitely put up the bat house.
posted by arnicae at 3:59 AM on January 3, 2012

Late to the show, but . . .

We put up a bathouse in, I think 2003/4 and it wasn't until last summer that we got bats. (Or at least one.)

We've bats throughout the neighborhood so it wasn't a big deal.

Not much guano and that that we do see is on our exterior kitchen vent. We simply hose it off periodically and there's no problem.

Go for it!
posted by Man with Lantern at 10:19 AM on January 4, 2012

Hey I've got a bat in my house right now and thought of you immediately. My 8 year old was not particularly enthused when it flew into her bedroom. I'll let you know tomorrow how much crap it leaves in there overnight since I'm too chicken to trap it myself.
posted by looli at 8:59 PM on January 4, 2012

Response by poster: Bat house is up. 5 year old is thrilled. No bats yet, but it's only beem 2 days.
posted by alcahofa at 5:32 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

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