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Stocking Your Bat House the Hard Way

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Published on: Jun. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

Every year since we moved back to the St. Louis area from out East, I've gone through a spring ritual of rummaging through my garage, trying to find my container of bat guano. Thanks in large part to my wife's hip operation, I don't need the stuff anymore.

My annual guano search started some five years ago. I built a bat house from plans supplied by the Missouri Department of Conservation. I took some liberties with dimensions, and, of course, I used some duct tape, but it turned out all right. I hung it in a good location--not too close to the ground, in a place with some sunlight--and waited for bats to come.

I looked forward to summer evenings in the hammock, watching bats swoop through our yard and decimate the local mosquito population.

It soon became obvious that having a bat house doesn't necessarily translate to having bats. I built it, but they didn't come. I waited and hoped a bat or two would stop by for a rest, take a liking to the place, and bring back some friends. Problem was, I could never attract that all important first bat.

The year we put up our bat house, I spent many evenings in the hammock. Rarely did I see a bat swoop through our yard. I regularly checked the bat house. It was always empty. We moved the bat house. Still empty. I felt like I was fishing with the wrong bait.

After a little reading, and after talking with folks from the Conservation Department, I learned that bat guano helps attract bats to a new roost. A mixture of guano and water spread across the entrance to a bat house sends a strong aromatic message: "Others have gone here before you!"

I figured it would be best to find guano from local bats. A few phone calls narrowed my search to a nearby Missouri state park. The assistant superintendent knew where I could find plenty of guano, but she wanted me to wait until late spring, after the bats had finished overwintering in the rafters of one of the picnic shelters. The following spring she led us to the shelter where we found small piles of guano. I left with a container of bat poop in hand.

Since then I have regularly pasted guano on our bat house, but it never attracted any bats. Last spring my

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