We just recently moved and we are in love with our new house, which of course is actually a great old house. It’s big and rambles a bit and our cat spooky has had a great time of exploration. One night, we were snoozing soundly with spooky the cat on our feet in our bedroom on the third floor, when spooky bolted out of the room and across the hall. There was a bit of commotion before we heard something – other than spooky – enter our room. AHHHHHHH – a wee bat had come into our bedroom to get away from kitty. Yikes! After one more similar, but MUCH more harrowing (probably seriously entertaining to watch from someone ELSE’S perspective), we got serious about finding out how and why they were coming into the house.
This is where Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station’s Wildlife Resources Program comes in . . . A dear friend had mentioned that she had heard that Rutgers would send someone out to investigate your bats. I interpreted this to a hope they could help me find a safe way to MOVE them outside! We had initially called a pest control company, and they confirmed that we did indeed have a bat colony in the attic, but we weren’t all that excited about their way of managing them with some type of chemical bat repellent.
While we did not wish to have bats occupying our living space, we had no wish to harm them. I had learned a while ago that bats eat tons of mosquitoes and anyone that knows me knows that mosquitoes and I don’t co-mingle well, therefore, I love the idea of having bats nearby!
Two folks came out from Rutgers and confirmed that we had a small family of bats in the attic, but that they weren’t the bats being affected by a terrible disease called White-nose Syndrome that is killing off small brown bats particularly in our area of New Jersey. They were very informative about these bats and gave us a lot of reasons why we shouldn’t panic about their presence.
So, we think we have discovered how they were getting into the house and sealed that off, and in the Fall, when their babies are grown up enough and there is no more mating going on, we will set up some bat houses outside and help guide them out there safely. We’ve been happily co-habitating now for a few weeks and I’ve been surprised to learn not only how important they are to our environment, but also how few of the myths about bats are actually true!
Important Things You Should Know About Bats
Bats & Agriculture
Bats are key pollinators in many parts of the world – over 75% of the world’s crops rely on animals and bats are an important pollinator.
Bat-dependent plants include: Bananas, plantain, breadfruit, peaches, mangos, dates, figs, and cashews. Bats also provide a wonderful source of natural fertilizer for cave ecosystems and agricultural systems as well. In some countries, bat guano has become a major business.
A single mouse-eared bat, which is widespread in North America can capture 1,000 or more mosquito-sized insects in JUST ONE HOUR!
Busting Bat Myths
Bats seldom spread disease – less than 1/2 of 1% of wild bats have rabies.
Bats do NOT want to get tangled in your hair! They have extremely good radar and will not encounter a human by choice.
Vampire bats are rare and NONE live in the US.
Bats, much like bees, are a critical part of our ecosystems and their health and population can mark the health of the environment. So, please learn how to help conserve bats. In NJ, it is ILLEGAL for anyone to kill bats.
image of mr. bat courtesy of shutterstock.com