If you’re interested in learning more about bats — whether you want to help them out by making some homemade bat attractant recipes or just find out if they really do carry rabies like so many people fear — we’ve got you covered here. We’ll talk to wildlife biologist Emily Belden on what kinds of natural bait would work best as well as other ways to make a house safe for bats.
First off, let’s get one thing straight: You probably don’t need to worry much about bats carrying rabies. The Centers For Disease Control says “the risk from rabid bats is very low.” In fact, it only happens when there are multiple species of bats living together in an area where humans have been exposed to infected animals.
But even if you aren’t worried about getting sick from a bat bite, you may still be curious how these flying mammals survive without all those fancy gizmos invented over time specifically to keep us warm, dry, fed, entertained and protected. Turns out, their secret lies in nature itself.
- Here are tips to attract bats to your backyard while keeping them away from your family:
Here are tips to attract bats to your backyard while keeping them away from your family:
Bats eat tons of insects every night, which means they’re great insectivores. But sometimes things change, though. Some types of bats migrate across long distances to specific locations each year in search of food. If this sounds familiar, consider planting certain types of fruit trees near your property line. This could encourage bats to stay close to home during migration season. Also, make sure to plant leafy greens because bats also use leaves to feed themselves and their young.
Bat House Tip #2: Planting trees and shrubs along your property border makes sense since most migrating bats fly through forests and wooded areas en route between summer feeding grounds and winter hibernation sites. Choose native plants such as willows, maples and dogwoods to grow near your garden fence or driveway, but avoid invasive weed species such as English ivy. These vines not only choke up sunlight, but also produce toxic chemicals called glycosides that deter birds and butterflies from eating their fruits.
1. Water Sources That Work Best As Bat Repellents
Most experts agree that water isn’t a good choice for repelling bats. When it comes to bat habitats, think of rivers, streams, ponds, lakes and wetlands. However, if you choose to provide a source of fresh drinking water for thirsty bats, then it should come from a clean source and never include fish.
A few other common household items that might seem attractive to bats include kerosene lamps, toilet tanks, car radiators, compost bins and birdbaths. Avoid leaving lit candles unattended around any type of container filled with combustible materials such as paper, cloths, grasses and hay. Heat generated by burning material produces carbon dioxide fumes that attract bats, too.
2. Birdhouses With Tasty Nectar Nearby
It turns out that the scent of nectar plays a huge role in luring hungry bats into a trap. To entice bats closer to your yard, fill a tall narrow glass jar half full of sugar syrup and place it next to a hanging birdhouse. Once dusk falls, watch out for winged visitors.
They’ll likely land nearby to drink until satisfied enough to take flight again. Another interesting trick for capturing wild bats involves building a temporary structure made of cardboard tubes and taping them together with duct tape. Then pour hot sauce onto the top layer once evening arrives. Next, hang the makeshift tent under a perch and wait. Afterward, collect the captured bats inside the tent before releasing them back outside.
3. Make Your Own Funnel To Catch Droppings
Since bats’ main diet consists of large numbers of tiny airborne insects, it follows that they require an effective way to capture them midair. Their solution? Sharp little claws located on the ends of strong curved wings. Unfortunately, these same wings act as sails when the animal takes flight, causing its body weight to shift forward toward the ground. When bats dive headfirst downward, their wings become caught underneath them.
Fortunately, bats evolved special membranes called patagiums that separate their front legs from their hindwings. By folding down the rear part of their forelegs, the bats extend their wingspan and create pockets of air beneath them.
Those pockets function like funnels, allowing the bats to scoop up falling prey. To imitate this effect, cut two holes in a folded piece of foam core board and affix them to the bottom corners of a plastic garbage bag using masking tape. Now you can stand back and enjoy watching bats swoop down to snatch tasty bugs.
4. Try Spraying Apple Cider Vinegar Around Trees And Branches
According to researchers who studied the effects of applying different solutions to reduce bat populations, spraying lemon eucalyptus oil mixed with mineral oil was found to be ineffective against vampire bats. On the contrary, they discovered that spraying diluted white vinegar worked pretty darn well. Of course, the effectiveness of this method depends largely upon several factors including weather conditions and proximity to homes and buildings.
Nevertheless, according to research conducted by University of California Berkeley students, the application of 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar to trees and brush works wonders. The smell of vinegar apparently keeps vampires at bay. Just remember to rinse the sprayed surfaces thoroughly after treating them.
5. Attach Small Bells Around Tree Branches
If you’d rather skip the messiness involved with washing chemical sprays, attaching small bells to branches surrounding your patio and walkway entrances might serve as better deterrents than scented oils, vinegars and citrus extracts.
One advantage of this approach is that you won’t have to reapply the mixture regularly. Instead, simply replace old bits of bell wire with new ones. To do so, tie loops in the end of thin steel fishing wires, bend them 90 degrees, slide them through the looped ends of the bells and secure them tightly with rubber bands.
Finally, wrap the entire setup in burlap sacking and set it aside somewhere cool and dark overnight. The following day, check to see if bats have used the bells to mark their territories. If yes, return everything back to its original location except the bells. Otherwise, move everything indoors or bury it deep within the soil.
Some folks believe that installing metal flashing above the tops of fences and hedges discourages bats from landing nearby. Others say that strategically placed reflective objects on the roof and sides of sheds and porches can confuse bats trying to navigate at night. Still others suggest using black polypropylene netting stretched horizontally across open spaces.
Whatever you decide to do, be careful when dealing with nets and reflectors. Never touch either directly. Always wear gloves. Also, consider consulting local regulations regarding installation of devices designed to discourage bats. Although none of these methods seems particularly appealing, they might work if installed correctly.
Attaching bells to trees and branches is another popular DIY option among homeowners who wish to scare bats away from their yards. While it’s true that bats might mistake bells for actual prey, the sound does contain frequencies similar to those produced naturally by male bats mating. Therefore, it doesn’t surprise me that males often show up in response to the noise. I’m personally skeptical of this tactic, however.
Do bats actually hear bells ringing? Or do they associate the noise solely with something edible? How accurate would it be to assume that the presence of a loud object in the middle of the woods indicates potential danger? Maybe you know better. Tell us what you think!