New Bat House Research Project

Loss of natural homes in caves and old-growth forests is one of the greatest causes of bat decline worldwide. Unfortunately, many former roosts can never be replaced, leaving an increasingly urgent need for alternative shelter. Wildlife Biologist, Steve Barlow, was one of the first to test the suitability of extra large designs, and he has been experimenting for nearly 20 years. Recently he has supplied his Big Bat House design to nature centers, city parks, wildlife refuges, farmers and private landowners.

Last October, Merlin met with Steve and they agreed to collaborate in developing a new, design that they hope will be even more attractive to bats. Their research proposal was generously funded by MTBC members, Joe and Sharon Goldston, with additional help from Steve. In early April Merlin spent two days with Steve and his construction crew in Kansas brainstorming anticipated improvements.

The result is a new modular design that is much less costly to build and lighter in weight. We also anticipate it’s being even more attractive to bats. It can be mounted on just two instead of four poles, and when a first module fills, more can be added, each one housing up to 4,000 bats. Based on past experience it is quite likely that, at some locations tens of thousands can be attracted, as ability to expand will be unlimited.

In early May, the first modules were installed on three farms in Florida, under Steve’s supervision. Test sites were each surrounded by a different kind of agricultural use in anticipation of a second research phase to investigate the bats’ impact on crop pests. Assuming bat acceptance, this should be a big step.

Two additional modules of the same design will be shipped for testing in Panama, hopefully to be installed by July. The first will be in a lowland rice-growing area, the second in a mountainous nature reserve. We believe all five sites have excellent potential to attract colonies in their first year, but we’ll have to be patient! Merlin’s first extra large roost, built at the University of Florida in Gainesville, took three years to attract bats. However, the colony rapidly grew to roughly 250,000!




2 thoughts on “New Bat House Research Project

  1. I like the work that you’re doing I don’t know if you’re interested I have property in Lake City and you’re free to put bat house there if you would like. It’s a semi-rural area most of the lots are 2 to 5 acres. You may contact me below if interested.

  2. I was the guy wearing the compression boot after your lecture in Austin on July 24th. While I am fascinated an thrilled by your expertise and efforts protecting bats, I am more impressed by your unique ability to dismantle communication barriers dividing conflicting factional ideologies. I made careful notes of what you told me in person and during your lecture. I also purchased your book to try to figure out your exact communication style. Your affability seems to disarm even the most difficult standoffs. I wonder if you might consider making careful observations of your own unique ability to resolve conflicts and create an offering in book form from which the world might benefit. We were all very impressed by your capacity for and your style of conflict resolution.

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