Photo Claire Sunquist ©
University of Florida Bat House – the world’s largest Bat house.
In 1991 UF was having trouble with bats roosting in the tennis and track stadiums. At track meets, people were complaining about the smell of bat feces. The University Athletic Association decided that the bats would have to be removed and called in an advisor who suggested they build a large bat house near Lake Alice.
The University put up the money to build a bat house and the bats in the track stadium were humanely trapped and relocated but none stayed for more than a few days. The bat house remained unoccupied for three years, and became the butt of many jokes – it was the largest empty bat house in North America.
In 1994 the bats finally began to move in, first a few hundred, then thousands. Today there are between 100,000 and 200,000 bats in residence. Ken Glover, UF’s pest management coordinator on campus estimates that the bats in the UF bat house eat as much as half a ton (1000 pounds) of insects a night.
On summer evenings, about 20 minutes after sunset, the bats begin to emerge - streaming out across the road and over Lake Alice. It has become quite an evening show, and most evenings dozens of bat watchers begin to gather in front of the bat house just before sunset. If the temperature is below 65 degrees the bats usually stay in their roosts, but between late March and late October, the evening show is on. Halloween usually draws a real crowd.
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