Most frequent questions and answers
MTBC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization with a mission to inspire bat conservation worldwide. We rely on a powerful combination of Merlin Tuttle’s more than 60 years of field experience and unsurpassed photography to dispel fear and document the many values of bats. We support research illustrating how bats sustain ecosystems and human economies. And we supply critical resources on how to conserve bats. Once people understand bats, most voluntarily become enthusiastic protectors!
The best way to stay up-to-date on what we are doing is by Becoming a Member. We offer different levels of membership to accommodate any budget. All levels of participation are meaningful. Members receive our Newsletters that include recaps of recent accomplishments, new discoveries, and Bat Flashes that address current issues of concern. Additionally, members may stay at the forefront of our activities by subscribing to our Blogs ( subscribes you only for real-time updates). We post worldwide highlights that inspire bat conservation and education. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates, and of course, share our amazing bat photos!
Thank you for your interest in Joining MTBC as a Member We’re a small organization where every member and donation is noticed and counts! All members receive our Newsletters, Bat Flashes, and up-to-date Resources on bat conservation. As a member, your special commitment will help us protect bats and the many ecosystems and economies that rely on them. Together, we’ll counter needless fear, spread understanding of bat values, and motivate their protection. No one works harder to achieve more with every penny invested!
Memberships can be automatically renewed annually, and you may edit your donation or contact settings HERE at any time.
At MTBC, donations are always appreciated at any level. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and donations are essential to our ability to inspire bat conservation. If you would like to donate, you can do so HERE. You can support general operations or a program area of your special interest.
Aside from direct donations via our website, you can create Facebook Fundraisers, T-shirt fundraisers, a sales donation from your artwork or other merchandise, or independent, local fundraiser events where proceeds can be donated to MTBC.
One of the best ways to get involved with MTBC is to Become a Member. You’ll receive our Newsletters, Bat Flashes, and up-to-date information on bat conservation. Some benefits even include ways to get directly involved with Merlin on field trips and workshops around the world! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay current with what we are doing. You can also subscribe to our Blog (this only subscribes you for real-time blog updates).
Education is critical to helping bats. People easily fear, seldom protect, and often kill animals they misunderstand. No group of animals is more wrongly feared than bats, so simple education can have incredible impact. Sharing our social media posts, Blog posts, Resources, images from our Photo Gallery and Videos are great ways to promote the Essential Values of Bats. We offer MTBC brochures you can hand out to help communicate the truth about bats. By becoming a more public advocate for bats, you can help dispel common myths and combat needless fear.
And of course, Donations are always greatly needed. Through MTBC, Dr. Tuttle provides the world’s finest bat photo gallery and the most up-to-date responses to grossly exaggerated disease speculation about bats. MTBC is also the only place to access his 60 years of unique expertise or support his work. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit with worldwide influence. Your donations allow us to continue providing these resources wherever needed. Aside from direct donations via our website, you also can create Facebook Fundraisers, T-shirt fundraisers, or independent, local fundraiser events where proceeds can be donated to MTBC.
Thank you very much for your interest in volunteering on behalf of bats! We have no opportunities available at this time. There may be other opportunities to work with university professors or graduate students conducting research in your area, or perhaps a local rehabilitator could use your help. Barring such opportunities you can always help bats by simply learning about them and sharing your knowledge. To that end I’d like to encourage you to join Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation as a member. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up with us. You can also subscribe to our Blog, which is a separate subscription from membership, so you receive only what you want from us.
Education is critical to helping bats. People do not protect what they fear or misunderstand, so educating humans has an incredible impact. You can be an ambassador for bats by sharing our social media posts, Blog posts, Resources, images from our Photo Gallery and Videos. We offer MTBC brochures you can hend out to help communicate the truth about bats. These are great ways to promote the Essential Values of Bats. By becoming a more public advocate for bats, you can make a personal difference, dispelling common myths and combating needless fear.
We periodically offer hands-on field opportunities. Those who join us on field trips accomplish so much, most recently in Thailand (2019) and Panama (2018). We have begun tentative plans for a trip to Costa Rica in 2022. We give first invitations to Partner and Cornerstone members, and then so on, as space remains.
You can gain a wealth of knowledge from our resources and download photos from our photo gallery to share with family and friends. It’s a great way to begin getting comfortable with public speaking, an invaluable talent! People won’t protect what they fear or misunderstand, so educating humans makes an incredible impact.
We hope to soon offer sponsorships to students or recent graduates. We will share any news with all our members as it becomes available.
Please be in touch if you have any additional questions. Very best wishes in your career pursuits! Merlin’s advice is always to follow your passion and ignore current trending subjects.
Unfortunately, at this time, we do not have opportunities to accept students. We are a very small staff dedicated to preserving Merlin’s legacy. Those who work with us to accomplish so much, most recently in Thailand and Panama, paid for the opportunity to help while learning new bat skills. We are a growing organization and never know what opportunities may arise. We do hope to offer student opportunities in the future, so we invite you to become a member of MTBC, to stay abreast of any new opportunities.
Very best wishes in your career pursuits! Merlin’s advice is always to follow your passion as opposed to current trending subjects. We hope you’ll find our Resources, Videos, Photo Gallery, Blog, and find us online on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And keep us informed of your work! We are happy to learn about, help, and share student work when possible.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay current with what we are doing. We invite you to share our posts and engage with others about the beauty and Value of Bats. By becoming a more public advocate for bats, you can help dispel common myths, Combat Needless Fear, and save bats worldwide!
Thanks to the Bat Scan Project and support from our members, MTBC provides Merlin’s one-of-a-kind photo collection for public use for little to no cost. You are welcome to select and download photos through our self-service system. Here are step-by-step instructions. We only supply photos to persons or entities promoting a positive representation of bats. You only need to fill out a Photo Request Form if you need high-resolution images at our nonprofit discount rate or if you have questions about the content you’re providing. Photos are not to be used or accompanied with content that in any way contributes to the public fear of bats. By downloading our photos you agree to our Terms of Photo Use. We do not permit our high-resolution images to be used digitally without special permission. All proceeds from all transactions go directly to bat conservation through our nonprofit organization.
- Digital Use Only – Low Resolution – We offer low-resolution (150 ppi) images for individuals or institutions promoting bat conservation in nonprofit exhibits or publications. This includes personal use in sharing with friends, on your social media, or personal projects. These images are perfect for digital presentations, the exact same as what Merlin uses.
These cost $10 for non-members, $2 for members, and some member level benefits include free downloads. You may simply select and download the images from our Photo Gallery as a nonmember. Or, Become a Member to take advantage of the discount benefits and a coupon code will be supplied in your welcome email to apply upon checkout.
- Non-Commercial Print Use – High Resolution – We offer high-resolution (300 ppi) images to individuals or institutions promoting bat conservation in non-profit exhibits or publications for a handling fee of $25 per photo. These images are free of embedded credit, though such photos must still be credited to “©MerlinTuttle.org.” Please fill out the Photo Request Form for the link to download our high-resolution images at a non-profit discount.
- Commercial Print Use – High Resolution – We offer high-resolution (300 ppi) images to individuals or institutions promoting bat conservation for commercial use. These images are free of embedded credit, though such photos must still be credited to “©MerlinTuttle.org.” Commercial users may select and download images from our Commercial Photo Gallery.
Merlin engages where he can accomplish the most for bat conservation. Priority is given to audiences that will have the greatest impact for bats, either through influence or financial support for our non-profit mission. Speaking engagements for audiences or individuals with major conservation decision-making influence or ability to sponsor bat conservation projects may be requested at a low or waived rate. All honorarium fees are paid directly to Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation 501(c)(3) non-profit and are used to support bat conservation projects. Contact Us with inquiries and please share any information about your group, it would be helpful when determining what we can offer.
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is caused by a fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans). It has spread rapidly across North America since it arrived from Europe in 2006, and it has killed millions of bats, triggering the most serious wildlife disease epidemic in American history. However, because infected bats can quickly travel long distances, even the best efforts of wildlife managers, biologists, and cavers have failed to prevent its spread from coast to coast. There is no evidence that human intervention can effectively stop or cure it. The good news is that northeastern populations have already begun to show signs of recovery. At this point, remaining WNS funds should be devoted to Restoring and Protecting Habitats, not to research to stop the spread or find a cure. We urge caution against Disturbing Hibernation Sites, as this will only force bats to waste additional energy reserves at a critical time. All attention should now focus on Protecting Critically Low surviving populations and documenting status trends with non-invasive approaches. Beyond protecting and restoring key roosts there’s little that can be done to help WNS-affected species. Even bat houses can help.
Another great way to share in their enthusiasm is to install a Bat House for the whole family to enjoy!
The Echo Meter Touch is an exciting way to discover bats in your neighborhood by listening to echolocation!
Learning about bats yourself will help you to answer some of their questions. You can explore our Blog and Resources for some savvy bat information and Fun Bat Facts. We encourage people of all ages to participate in science and nature as Community Scientists. For younger children, reading books about bats, like Stella Luna and Bats in the Slats are great. For young adults interested in science and conservation, Merlin offers his advice on Choosing a Career. There is no better time to follow your passion! And if your passion is bats, watch Merlin’s lecture HERE!
Try carefully scooping such bats onto a shovel or broom and moving them to a safe location away from people or pets. If possible, allow the mother to climb onto a tree trunk. A healthy bat will just need help getting to a place where it can take off.
Bats that enter human living quarters are typically lost youngsters who are frightened and simply looking for an escape. Options for problem solving are easy if one does not panic and run. In doing so you may lose sight of the bat, making it difficult to determine if it has left or hidden. Instead, just stay calm and close off doors or access to the rest of the house. Then, open a door or window to the outside while watching to be sure the bat escapes safely. Alternatively, you can wait for it to land. Slowly approach the bat with a container. One that is clear plastic is recommended. Clamp the container over the resting bat. Slip a piece of cardboard behind, trapping it inside (just like when you trap a bug to release it). To release, simply open the container outdoors and the bat will happily fly away. For more information, see our resource titled Bats in Buildings.
If you need help in the Austin, TX area, we suggest contacting the Austin Bat Refuge at (512) 695-4116. They are able to rescue a bat and/or assist you. Regardless of what kind of bat it is, or where it is found, it poses no risk if left untouched. However, like any frightened animal, it may bite in self-defense if handled. While most bats are not rabid, don’t risk being bitten, and if you are, be sure to have the bat promptly tested by your local health department. Like veterinarians, anyone who handles unfamiliar animals should be vaccinated for rabies to protect against occasional defensive bites. Visit our resource page titled Rabies in Perspective for additional information.
There is no better time to follow your passion and if your passion is bats, watch Merlin’s lecture on Choosing a Career. To stay up-to-date on bat conservation and research issues/needs, please join us by Becoming a Member. We provide critical information in our Resources, sure to help you along your journey, such as Advice for Young People Interested in Science and Conservation.
It’s never too soon to start preparing. Decide what interests you most about bats, for example control of crop pests, pollination, seed dispersal, or any of a wide variety of things. Whatever it is, try to focus on topics that will benefit humans and help keep the natural world healthy.
Volunteer with the nearest bat experts, or those working in areas close to your interests. That often leads to employment, and also helps build credentials and experience that can help you gain acceptance into a graduate school or program of your choice. Look for a professor who does research relevant to human needs in any of a variety of areas. This could be a botanist interested in pollination of economically or ecologically important plants who might guide you in studies of those that rely on bats. By working with a professor who excels at something other than bats, you can broaden your knowledge base while greatly increasing your odds of successful employment. Try not to simply go where someone offers you support in exchange for willingness to work on one of their pet projects, not necessarily in line with your own interests and needs.
Also, don’t be afraid to take time off between college and graduate school as long as that time is spent in activities that contribute to your long-term goals. Merlin took a year off to work on an American Museum of Natural History expedition to Uruguay between his sophomore and junior years of college, then took off two more between college and graduate school to lead expeditions for the Smithsonian in Venezuela. The experience and connections got him accepted into a top graduate program despite marginal grades from college. In the end, he gained a Ph.D. with honors and landed one of the world’s finest jobs in his field.
If you want a great life doing things you enjoy, you will have to work very hard, but it will not seem hard if it is what you love. There will be plenty of challenges, but in the end they are growth opportunities. And remember, we have discovered only a very small percent of what there is to learn about bats. The world of bats is a world full of exciting discoveries still waiting to be made!
Merlin founded Bat Conservation International (BCI) in 1982 and led it for three decades. He retired from leadership at BCI in 2009.
He founded Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation (MTBC) in 2014. This is Merlin’s most recent contribution to the world of bat conservation. We are proud of Merlin’s accomplishments with BCI, but the only way to contact him or support his work now is via MTBC.
MTBC is the only organization from which to license Merlin’s Photos, obtain his much-needed Resources, and support his ongoing work. We provide the best documentation addressing the most important current issues. For example, we are countering irresponsible Disease Speculation with sound science. We’ve documented much needed Rabies policy changes in America, addressed the need for new directions in WNS Policy, and recommended positive approaches to deal with the Wind Energy Crisis for bats. In addition, we urge positive approaches for addressing Pesticide Addiction and Climate Change threats to bats..
One of the best ways to support Merlin is to Become a Member of MTBC. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay current with what we are doing. And of course, Donations are always greatly needed. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit with a worldwide reputation and donations support our work to inspire bat conservation worldwide.
People love cute pets but pet bats are not a wise idea. Bats are difficult to care for in captivity, and bats cannot be legally obtained. People wanting a pet bat are most likely to obtain a bat only by finding a sick one, the ones most easily caught. Such a bat could be rabid. Don’t risk trying to keep it as a pet.
Captive breeding is seldom a cost-effective means for saving a bat species. It’s a big investment and rarely, if ever, economically feasible relative to other options. We appreciate your interest in advocating for the improvement of the Perceptions of Bats and there are some ways to have an impact. Bat Houses are a great way to become better acquainted with bats and educate your neighbors. Imagine if you got even 100 bats in a bat house. It would be a great opportunity for watching and sharing!
You may enjoy Merlin’s resource How I Photograph Bats. It’s not easy! Claims of harming bat eyes with flashes are just another of many myths. Also, we know of no scientifically credible evidence that digital cameras interfere in any way with bat navigation.
Never disturb bats roosting in a cave without first consulting an expert. Foliage roosting or feeding bats often can be photographed with minimum disturbance if approached very slowly and quietly, gradually acclimating them to camera sounds and flashes. Merlin sometimes takes from one to three hours to approach while carefully watching for signs of nervousness (increased ear and body movements). Frightened bats never make good photos!
Bats emerging from a cave can be sensitive to disturbance when they are first beginning to leave, so during visitor viewings we recommend that flashes not be fired directly in the faces of the first emerging bats. Once bats are in full emergence, occasional flashes tend to be ignored.
Most serious photographers who want to photograph bats team up with a professional bat biologist who can be a big help, both in finding bats and in learning how to avoid harmful disturbance, especially at roosts.
Excellent! We have worked hard to provide resources for properly constructing and installing a bat house. We hope you find our Selecting a Quality Bat House page helpful in finding MTBC-Approved Bat House Vendors. If you would like to build your own, Merlin’s Bat House Builder’s Handbook is a good place to get started. However, we have learned much since the publication of that book and look forward to sharing our new Bat House Handbook with you. Please Join to get notifications about this all new, soon-to-be-published resource.
We always appreciate a shared concern for helping bats. They have recently been determined to be America’s most threatened warm-blooded animals and have never needed your help more!
Education is critical to helping bats. Because people will not protect what they fear or misunderstand, educating humans makes an incredible impact in countering Needless Fear and killing of bats. There likely will be a market for Bat Taxidermy as long as people fear them. There is no such way to “sustainably harvest” bats, contrary to vendor claims. Most produce just one pup per year.
We encourage you to learn more about bats, their contributions to the communities we share, and the major threats they face. Then share what you learn with family, friends and networks. We have covered Exaggerated Disease Speculation, White-nose Syndrome (WNS), Wind Energy, Human Disturbance, and Habitat Loss, and many other Resources. Until more people like bats, these problems will continue to prove extremely difficult to resolve.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay current with what we are doing. We invite you to share our social media posts, Blog posts, images from our Photo Gallery and Videos so you can help promote the Essential Values of Bats. In our Bat Flashes, we provide all the resources needed for you to write to news editors and politely express your opinions about critical issues. Becoming a more public advocate for bats is a simple way you can help protect bats worldwide!
We invite you to Become a Member of MTBC to follow our work and stay abreast of conservation needs. And of course, Donations are always greatly needed and appreciated. We are a small nonprofit with a worldwide responsibility, and our work would be impossible without donations. Aside from direct contributions via our website, you can create Facebook Fundraisers, T-shirt fundraisers, or create independent local fundraiser events.
Bats, like any living organism, are capable of harboring scary viruses, yet Transmission is Rare, typically only to humans who carelessly handle a bat that bites in self-defense, followed by failure to seek medical attention. Those who simply do not handle bats have Little to Fear; Merlin traces back how public health exaggerations have dramatically impacted bat conservation from the 1970’s through today.
Actually, one of the most surprising things about bats is the rarity of disease transmission to humans despite thousands of years of consistently close association. Rabies transmission from bats accounts for just 1-2 human cases per year in all the U.S. and Canada combined. Worldwide, dog transmission accounts for 99% of all human cases. Though a huge effort has attempted to link Ebola outbreaks to bats, Scientists Have Failed to find infectious Ebola virus in any bat of any species. Because bats are little known and Easily Misunderstood and feared, there is little public protest to Exaggerated Disease Warnings.
Time and time again we see bats take the blame as a result of premature speculation. In the case of COVID-19, a rush to judgement from far too many public health officials and media outlets focused almost entirely on bats as the source, misdirecting much needed resources while the actual source of human exposure is left unconfirmed. Misdirecting attention from documented sources of human infection, in order to blame bats, needlessly decreases tolerance of bats while deflecting caution from other animals of far higher risk. In truth, bats have one of our planet’s finest records of Living Safely with Humans.
Join MTBC in advocating for bats, combating common myths, and sharing their Essential Values. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay current with what we are doing and check our Bat Flashes for all the resources needed to address news editors about critical conservation issues.
By conservative estimate there are more than 3 million bats being killed by wind turbines annually in the U.S. alone. You can learn more about the problem and possible solutions through our wind energy resources. Alert friends and community about problems of wind power killing wildlife. You can also express your concern to local decision makers. Support local efforts to prevent installation by joining entities that are opposing the turbines. Our resources provide a lot of background information on things you can do and how serious the problem is and may be useful to all concerned.