Permaculture forum: Animals In Permaculture - Bats

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Name: Chris Powell
Glendale, AZ (Zone 9b)
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milkmood
Mar 28, 2012 8:35 AM CST
This morning while researching the roles of animals in permaculture, I came across this article on bats, their roles, their needs, and how to attract them.

http://permaculturetokyo.blogspot.com/2008/05/bats-useful-pe...
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Mar 28, 2012 9:00 AM CST

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Thanks for posting this, Chris. Our mosquito problem this spring has got me thinking about bats again.
Name: Lee Anne Stark
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threegardeners
Mar 28, 2012 9:37 AM CST
I've got dozens of bats in the attic of my house. Every evening in the summer I can sit outside and watch them pour out...they dive around me just eating up all of the mosquitoes they can. I love my bats Big Grin
Name: Chris Powell
Glendale, AZ (Zone 9b)
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milkmood
Mar 28, 2012 9:57 AM CST
Lee Anne, that would be awesome, I love bats too...but...I don't think I'd want them in my attic LOL! Might have a guano pile falling through your ceiling. Maybe consider making a bat house for them?

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hazelnut
Mar 28, 2012 11:36 AM CST
I had white owls in my attic when I first moved here. They were here several years and finally left when I had the roof replaced. I guess they didn't like all that racket!

On a few occasions on excursions to the attic I heard sounds, like steam escaping. It was the owls protesting that I was getting too close to their nests. The babies were huge and hairless--not cute at all, except maybe to Mom owl. When the owls were learning to fly, their favorite thing to do was to buzz my dogs, and then shriek, shriek as they flew away.

http://www.outdooralabama.com/watchable-wildlife/what/Birds/...

Oh yeah. The reason I posted this. Owls are one of the predators of bats.
[Last edited by hazelnut - Mar 28, 2012 11:38 AM (+)]
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Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Mar 28, 2012 11:42 AM CST
That must be why my bat population is so low. Lots of owls around ... and hawks. Few bats ... and the largest colony that is nearby (in a cave) has the white-nose syndrome. Sad

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Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
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extranjera
Mar 28, 2012 9:00 PM CST
Not all bats eat mosquitoes, unfortunately. We've got several kinds here but the most common is a fruit bat. I wish I knew how to encourage the bug bats and not the fruit bats. The fruit bats fly into our terraces, suddenly seem to realize there is a wall ahead of them and empty all ballast while making that 180° turn. That stuff is very, very difficult to remove from the walls. We have an enormous banyan (fig) tree on the wall behind the house and several other fruit trees nearby. Plus, they come down for water from my ponds. I don't begrudge them the water or the fruit but I wish they wouldn't leave the guano on my wall. Friends have told me to put a red light on the terrace at night, apparently the bats don't like red lights. There is a joke there somewhere but I'm not going to look for it Blinking
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Name: Chris Powell
Glendale, AZ (Zone 9b)
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milkmood
Mar 28, 2012 9:43 PM CST
One argument for the red light trick: http://debiinmerida.blogspot.com/2009/08/we-now-live-in-red-...

And from an authority on bat control, for those that *don't* want them: http://www.stephentvedten.com/34_Bats.pdf

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hazelnut
Mar 29, 2012 8:46 AM CST
extranjera: In the old days in Alabama bat guano was so treasured that the planters would order it from Peru and have shiploads delivered to their fields. Had they known, they probably could have got bat guano from Tennessee. There are a lot of limestone caveswhere bats like to hang out.
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
Mar 29, 2012 9:39 AM CST
We have lots of bats and I love watching them in the summer. They hibernate in the winter either in the basement of the barn which is exposed to the outside on two sides or in the stacked firewood. If we are loading firewood into the cart and we see a bat, we go to another pile. Gotta have the bats! Thumbs up Thumbs up
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
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extranjera
Mar 29, 2012 9:14 PM CST
Chris, that quote is from my friend's blog. For her it has worked and she did have a big problem before. We'd be sitting out on her terrace on a summer night and they would zoom right through your hair. Now, she has a red light terrace and the bats stay outside.

There are a lot of caves here, some of them are dry and most are part of a large underground river system. I think they harvest the guano from the dry caves. I used to be a cave diver and when we would surface in small caves the bats would be only a few inches from the top of the water. They are really cute, little pug like dog faces. Defensive too, they would spread their wings to protect their young.

Now I live in the city and the only guano I have I have to spend a long time with a scrubby to get off my walls.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Chris Powell
Glendale, AZ (Zone 9b)
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milkmood
Mar 30, 2012 6:13 AM CST
Small world. What are the odds!

I'd love to visit the Yucatán sometime, even if only for the (not cave) diving and the food. And the bats. Very unique part of North America.

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hazelnut
Mar 30, 2012 6:06 PM CST
Im not a professional caver, but I did have a chance to explore some of the limestone caves north of Nashville, Tn.
As I remember the animals in the caves were white, Im not sure if the bats were white. It must be fascinating to make a real study of these underground places. Prehistoric men liked to hang out in the caves, also. Almost always we found traces that they had been there.
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
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extranjera
Mar 30, 2012 7:14 PM CST
No, the bats are not white, they go in and out of the caves nightly and sleep fairly close to the openings. There are some blind fish in some of the more remote (from light) parts of the cave system. I'm not a professional cave diver either, I was a dive nut though for many years and have a lot of friends who have been involved in mapping much of the underwater cave system here in the Yucatan. They took me along a bit Rolling my eyes. although I never went and got the certification. This is Mexico as we say.

They have connected many kilometers of the underground water system here as it flows to either the Caribbean or the Gulf. Lots of that exploration was not something I would do, really extreme diving. Lots of very small spaces where they had to remove their tanks to get through. Also there are enormous spaces that are the size of indoor football stadiums. It is a very inspiring thing to swim through these huge spaces with stalactites and stalagmites hundreds of feet high that have been there for milleniums. I have seen paintings on the walls and the remains of cooking fires in areas that have been underwater since the last ice age. Due to the limestone, the water is perfectly clear so you have the feeling that you are flying effortlessly through air.

My definition of technical diving is when going to the surface is not an option, a lot of this fit that description because the entire cave is underwater. Divers have drowned within 20' of air because it was ahead of them not above them and they couldn't reach it in time. Also, because of the distances, they would have to take extra tanks, leave them in as far as they could go in one trip, go back out, decompress. Then on the next trip they would use a scooter as far as the drop tanks and then continue and do the same thing again... and again and again. Pretty interesting but hard work. They used to dive in shifts 24/7 in some of the more remote areas because the longer they were there the more supplies had to be hauled in (by hand or by horse) and of course daylight was irrelevant.

The ancient Maya considered the caves as the entrance to the underworld and altars and sacrifices were made there. The current Maya also leave altars and offerings just inside the entrances. We would often have them shown to us by the Mayan guys with us. They were usually in a tucked away corner and had flowers and fruit and candles.

The caves (called cenotes here) are the main supply of water on this limestone peninsula with no surface rivers. Until a few years ago our condo on the caribbean coast in Akumal got its water from a cenote about 14 miles inland. This is in a very touristy area. Now we are on "city" water but I'm sure it also comes from wells driven into the underground cave system.

There are theories that a prolonged drought caused many of the cenotes to dry up and that this was a factor in the abandonment of some of the ancient Mayan cities. It's not the only theory and it is probable that there were several factors involved. For one thing, without sufficient water for crops there would be famine, another is that many of the cities reached a population that was unsustainable. The main temples and the homes of the elite were generally in the middle of the most fertile land and as the population grew, the land used for food was less fruitful or depleted. Many of these cities had populations in the hundreds of thousands at their height. It kind of sounds like some current conditions doesn't it?

The Yucatan is a fascinating place and I'm sure any of you would enjoy visiting it. It has a long coastline on both the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, contains 3 states (Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo) and many fascinating Mayan ruins. Milkmood, the food IS delicious and the flora and fauna unique. The music is great too, a mix of Caribbean and Mexican. It's also very safe without some of the problems afflicting other parts of Mexico.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.

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hazelnut
Mar 30, 2012 7:59 PM CST
Extranjera: Just like a trip to Yucatan! Thank you.

Maybe Dave will bring us on a trip (???)
Name: Debra
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lovemyhouse
Mar 31, 2012 10:26 AM CST
Okay, you all have inspired me. Have had a bat house sitting around for five years. Couldn't get it high enough up the tree myself, so I am going to try recruiting one of the strong young men at the office to bring a tall ladder and put it up for me. There are enough mosquitoes around here to feed half of the Austin Congress Avenue Bridge's colony! Green Grin!
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'

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hazelnut
Mar 31, 2012 1:05 PM CST
Martha Stewart bat house.

http://www.marthastewart.com/269893/attracting-owls-and-bats

For 'haut couture' bats. (see video)

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