Bats… these fascinating, furry, flying mammals do humanity a great service by eating uncounted numbers of mosquitoes and other insect pests, so why not help the little guys out by furnishing them with suitable homes to roost in? These 10 bizarre bat houses may look somewhat creepy to us but to our winged friends, they’re home sweet home!
The Bat Cone, Baghdad, Iraq
This unusual looking cone-shaped structure was once a pigeon cove located on the grounds of a palace former Iraqi dictator Sadaam Hussein built for one of his mistresses. Today the palace is a U.S. Army post called Camp Liberty (formerly known as Camp Victory North) and the pigeon cove is now a home to a colony of bats. Hey, to the victors go the spoils!
(image via: Travel Webshots)
As can be judged by the size of other objects in the above photo, the cone-shaped bat house is rather large. It’s said that when the sun goes down, hundreds of bats stream out from the bat house to go about their nightly bug-eating rounds.
Modernist Bat House by Alex Metcalf
British designer Alex Metcalf crafted a prickly yet practical Bat House in 2007. The artist used wood and slate to provide an old-time “distinctive aesthetic” for the bat house, which is meant to help raise awareness of the need for (and loss of) bats in the Greater London area. As modern residential upgrades and new construction gradually eliminates the attic and loft spaces favored by bats, the creatures are losing an ideal urban habitat.
Berkeley Bat House, London, UK
An environmentally friendly bat house at the London Wetland Centre is now open for business… bat business. The large, breathable structure was designed by architecture students Jorgen Tandberg of Oslo and Yo Murata fof Tokyo, acting on a design concept put forth by local artist and bat enthusiast Jeremy Deller. “It’s great,” commented Deller on the finished bat house, “I wouldn’t mind living there myself.”
(image via: Treehugger)
The Berkeley Bat House was built with guidance from the UK’s Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) and was designed to house all 8 species of bats found in the locality. Among its many bat-friendly features are an invisible black roof to warm the interior and walls made from Hemcrete, a carbon-locking type of concrete made of hemp fiber and lime.
Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower, Florida, USA
The Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower, or “Perky’s Folly” as some call it, stands solemnly at Marker 17 of Lower Sugarloaf Key, in the midst of what was to be a thriving holiday resort built by south Florida businessman Richter Clyde Perky. The wooden tower was intended to house bats Perky imported from Cuba and Texas, with the intent that the bats gobble up the multitude of malaria-spreading mosquitoes that plagued the marshy Lower Keys.
(image via: Direct Villas Florida)
The 30-ft tall tower was completed in 1929… not a great year for any kind of investment, let alone a resort for free-spending pre-jet-setters. In any case, Perky soon learned that you can lead bats to a bat house but you can’t make them live there: once released, the foreign bats flew off to the four winds, the bat house remained bat-less, and the budding resort was soon guest-less.
Municipal Bat-Roost, San Antonio, Texas, USA
If the “municipal bat-roost” above looks familiar, it should be: it was designed by Dr. Charles A. R. Campbell, the same person who sold the Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower to Richter Clyde Perky from Sugarloaf Key. Campbell’s bat-roosts were more successful at attracting and housing bats, however, probably because unlike Sugarloaf Key, the various Texas locations where Campbell built his bat-roosts were in close proximity to sources of fresh water.
(image via: Shorpy.com)
Campbell was a big believer in bats, calling them “one of man’s best friends” and extolling their value in controlling mosquitoes. Before designing his towers, he noted that bats liked to roost in church steeples and incorporated their shape, style, even the cross on top to help the bats feel at home. Another feature of the design was a trapdoor intended to allow easy removal of bat guano, a prized and valuable fertilizer. If you’re wondering just how much guano bats living in one of Campbell’s towers could produce in a year, records show that in 1918 the crop of guano harvested from the Mitchell’s Lake Bat Roost weighed 4,012 pounds!
Highland Bat House, Japan
(image via: BSCJ)
Though it looks at first glance like a water tower, this is actually a “Bat Tower” located in an ecological park near Iwakura City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Most bat houses in Japan are small, often taking the form of a hollowed-out log. Larger towers like this one are much less common.
University of Florida Bat House, Gainesville, Florida, USA
(image via: SunSentinel.com)
The largest occupied artificial bat house in North America and, perhaps, the world can be found on the shores of Lake Alice at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida. It’s estimated that each night over 100,000 free-tailed bats in the UF colony consume up to 20 million insects, providing the campus and the surrounding area with free, environmentally friendly pest control.
Tragedy struck the UF Bat House in early August of 2009, however, as the tower’s internal wooden roosting fins collapsed under the weight of as many as 200,000 bats – and their accumulated urine.
John Knox Road Bat House, Tallahassee, Florida, USA
This bat house, located in Tallahassee, Florida, looks old and even somewhat oriental with its red clay tiled roof but it was actually constructed in 1999. The use of very tall supporting poles keeps the bats safe from predators while providing ventilation – guano collection on a large scale is no longer practiced.
(image via: Wikipedia)
The 10 by 10 by 23 ft high bat house was built with the support of the Twilight Group, a privately funded non-profit organization whose mission is to provide educational programs about bats and through doing so, promote their conservation. Situated on the John Knox Road marsh pond, the approximately 60,000 Brazilian Free-Tailed bats that roost in the house from October through March find both fresh drinking water and abundant insect foods close at hand. Er, wing.
Bat Castle Bat House
Want a bat house of your very own? There are plenty of plain-jane bat houses around and of course the bats really don’t care what they look like – but YOU do. That’s where The Bat Castle comes in. Priced at under $100 and made in the USA, this sturdy cypress wood bat house features non-rusting brass fittings and internal netting for your bat-guests to hang onto when roosting. Seats 50 to 60, eerie music optonal.
(image via: Studio G)
The Bat Castle may look like a novelty item but it’s approved by those who know one end of a bat from the other. “I like this bat house very much,” reports George Marks, Founder & President of the Florida Bat Conservancy. “The length of it allows the bats to move up and down within the house to find variations in the internal temperature.” Cool indeed, though if it were up to me I’d call it The Bats Motel, heh.
To The Bat Pole!
(image via: Decepticreep)
No, not THAT Bat Pole… though what you do in the privacy of your own bat cave is your own bat business.
Bat Poles do exist, though sliding down them isn’t recommended. These poles – pipes, more like – offer a no-nonsense solution for those who want to provide their local bats with a safe house but don’t want to disturb the aesthetics of their architecture.
Bat houses have a long history, as our ancestors figured out long ago that bats in the neighborhood meant less bugs biting them. It’s a true tragedy, then, that bats have been decimated by the mysterious fungal disease known as White Nose Syndrome. Giving bats a place to live could help them as a species – the more the merrier, as they say. A bat house, bizarre or not, installed on an outer wall or on a post is a very cool, ultra low maintenance way to do your bit for bats.