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Bats are victim to a number of stereotypes, often portrayed in film as an animal to be feared. In reality, the presence of these flying mammals is actually beneficial to the ecosystem. Most species of bat feed primarily on insects, including mosquitoes. One insect-eating bat is capable of consuming up to 1/3 of its body weight in insects per night. These bats help control the number of insects, preventing overpopulation. Other types of bats feed on fruit, simultaneously acting as pollinators, and a small percentage of bats obtain nourishment from the blood of other yard and garden pests.
Becoming more educated in the lifestyles of bats will allow people to understand more about how helpful this species is and learn to not fear them. Bats are not blind and they are actually very clean animals. Like owls, bats live a nocturnal lifestyle. They enjoy being in their own home and will not eat holes into your home or act as predators to other birds feeding in your backyard.
Many people recognize the benefits of bats and encourage them to colonize nearby by providing a bat house. The biggest issue with bar houses is that they are not always properly designed to attract bats. Short and small houses will not always attract bats. Bat houses are designed with a single chamber or multiple chambers. Male and female bats prefer to rest in separate chambers, and an additional chamber can also be beneficial for nursing young bats. The bats enter the home from an opening in the bottom of the house, where there is often a textured landing area on which to cling as they enter. Mount bat houses at least 15-25 feet above ground, in areas that receive plenty of sun during the day, as bats prefer warmth.
Where you hang your bat house is equally important as the build of the house. Bat houses can be mounted on buildings or tall trees or even poles. Bats need to see the sunrise, so make sure to place your bat house where they are in plain view of the sunrise. Just because these dark bats are all black and fly through the night doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy the sun. Bat houses need about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to keep the inside of their house heated. You should mount your bat house fifteen or more feet off the ground, the higher the better.
If your bat house is placed high enough, in view of the sun and big enough you will manage to attract some overnight guests. Remember bats are not harmful to you or other birds. Like owls they will help rid your yard of pesky bugs, insects and some ground mammals.
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