There are not many animals in nature who harbor more mythos than the bat. In lore, they are creatures of the supernatural, harbingers of doom and gloom, and thanks to Bram Stoker, a bloodthirsty shapeshifter with a penchant for theatrics. In reality, humans are far more dangerous to bats than bats are to us. Recognizing the difference between fact and fiction is essential to not only the preservation of bats, but the acceptance of them. Some folks are supporting these nocturnal mammals by installing bat houses around their homes and gardens as a way to ensure the safety of their species, while also aiding in the natural order of our ecosystem.
A traditional bat house is designed as a small, flat-panel box with vertical slats to mimic the small spaces between the bark and a tree trunk—creating the ideal, warm nursery for their pups. In return, bats reward our kindness with some much-needed perks. As the top predator for night-flying insects, having bats around is extremely beneficial in controlling the pest insect populations. Plus, in many ecosystems, they play a key role in plant pollination and seed dispersal—and what’s good for the garden, is good for us.
The Woodcock Nature Center in Wilton has held bat house building workshops in the past. We spoke to Sarah Breznen, Director of Education at the Woodcock Nature Center, who shares best practices for installing a bat house on your property. “Bats like warmth, so mount the house in a location that gets at least four hours of sun each day. East, southeast and south are best,” says Breznen. “The higher the better – 15-20 feet high. Houses placed lower will not be used. Studies have shown that bats typically avoid bat houses mounted on trees. Poles or mounting directly to the house or building work best.”
Terry McManus, Archivist and Historian for the Ridgefield Garden Club, explains her experience with bat houses. “My husband built the bat house based on plans he found on the CT DEEP website, and we installed the house high on a pole at our pond. We recognize the value bats have to the environment and knew they were continuing to decline so we thought we’d put a bat house in to help them have a place to roost and raise young.”
Though providing an outside shelter for bats might seem enticing, we can all agree that we’re not so keen on them being in our home. If a bat does get in your house, swatting it with a tennis racquet is not the best advice. Better to call bat man aka Bats R Us Wildlife LLC in Bethel, which has served the greater Connecticut area for years as some of the best environmentally responsible and “humane nuisance wildlife problem solvers.” Their team of licensed and trained specialists will not only take ethical care of the unwanted wildlife in your home, but handle relocation, attic restoration and decontamination and odor control. Bats R Us Wildlife LLC Owner and President, Joe Gray, talks a little about the removal process and other fang-tastic takeaways.
“What people don’t realize is how important bats are for the ecosystem—as one bat can eat thousands of insects per night—but yes, they don’t belong in peoples’ attics,” says Gray. “What we do is thermal inspection to see if they have bats, then we seal the house and install one-way valves so bats can get out but can’t get back in.” •