Bats in Our Belfry!?

by Chuck Loeffler

The Bent Tree Log - February 1993


Yes, we have bats in Bent Tree.  There are 17 species of bats known to occur in Colorado, and they are all insect eaters.  You won't see them during the winter, as they all either hibernate or migrate to warmer climates during winter months.  During the summer they can be seen at dusk, when they fly about to feed on insects.


Bats have, in general, gotten a "bad rap" in our society.  They are small, shy, and fairly intelligent mammals, rather than evil creatures which drain your blood and get tangled in your hair.  Although there is a species of bat, found in Mexico and Central America, which feeds on animal blood, the bats found in Colorado are all insect eaters.  In fact, they are quite beneficial in helping to control insect pests.  Bats will consume from 30 to 50 percent of their body weight in insects nightly, and they're quite fond of moths.  Consider that this summer, when the miller moths return to pester us.  Exactly which species of bats are found in Bent Tree is not known, but some of the most likely ones to occur in our area are; the big brown bat, the little brown bat, the long-eared myotis, the long legged myotis, the silver-haired bat, and the hoary bat.


One of the concerns, or fears, most people have regarding bats is the fact that they can be rabies carriers.  Although this is true, it must be kept in perspective.  Many other wild mammals, such as skunks and raccoons, also can be rabies carriers, and there are very few documented cases of humans contracting rabies from bats.  If you use common sense and care, there is very little chance of getting rabies from a bat.  The most important rule to remember is, never handle a dead, sick, or injured wild mammal with your bare hands, or in a way that would give the animal an opportunity to bite you.


If I've, hopefully, convinced you that bats are not monsters, and that they are beneficial to have around, I want to encourage you to help provide better bat habitat in Bent Tree via putting up some bat houses.  One of the things bats lack here are good roost sites, and bat houses - similar in size, but of slightly different design than bird houses - can provide such sites.  If you're interested, I can provide you plans for building bat houses (488-2458), or you can contact Ryan Caddy, a local Boy Scout working on his Eagle Scout project, at 488-9478.  Ryan will provide a bat house for your lot, if you request it.


Whereas relatively little is known about the status and trend of bat populations in Colorado, Dr. David Armstrong, at the University of Colorado, started a statewide volunteer effort in 1991 to survey bats in the State.  If you'd like to be part of this effort, please give me a call (488-2458), and I'll get you the necessary information.  It requires no special expertise, relatively little time (two evenings during late June and/or early July), and can be fun and educational.