Bat Boxes

About bats

Bats are fast and agile animals with an insatiable hunger for insects, and can consume hundreds of bugs and mosquitoes in a single night. Perhaps it’s the unknown and secret world of these amazing animals that make people uneasy; and it is this lack of knowledge that perpetuates imaginative myths, negative perceptions and makes them feared, hated and eradicated.

The effect of insect pests on crops is a major problem in agriculture., an estimated 13 per cent of the potential world crop yield is annually lost to pests, with insects being the main culprits. De Hoop Guano Cave in the Cape Province of South Africa is home to the largest aggregation of bats in South Africa, with a calculated 300 000 bats roosting there. This colony consumes an estimated 100 tons of insects annually, making an invaluable contribution to the pest control on farms in the Bredasdorp area. Similar examples are found in other parts of the world, like that of the Brazilian free-tailed bat that preys on Corn earworm moths (Helicoverpa zea).

Bat boxes

Bat boxes (or bat houses) are a cost-effective initiative that increases the likelihood of attracting bats to your property, and thereby decreasing the number of insects in your area. Urban residents, lodge or recreational venue owners and farmers, can all benefit greatly from having inhabited bat houses on their properties. It is a cheaper and more environmentally friendly way of helping to keep insect populations under control as opposed to the continual use of poisonous chemicals that, apart from being illegal, do not provide an effective long-term solution. If bats living in the roof of a house are poisoned and die, new bats will simply take their place, and therefore it is preferable rather to bat-proof the roof and provide alternative housing for the bats.

EcoSolutions can also deal with bat problems in roofs of houses and buildings by excluding the bats and then offering them an alternative home in the form of a bat house. We have a wealth of knowledge in the supply and installation of bat houses, and are committed to the continuous design improvement to the success and cost-effectiveness of these bat houses. 

In addition, nature lovers might enjoy the spectacle of watching bats emerge from a bat house, swooping around them to catch insects with unmatched agility.

Why is my bat box empty?

There are many reasons why bats may choose not to live in a bat box. They are wild animals and, like all wildlife, cannot be totally controlled by humans, or forced to move into a bat house. Current research is increasing our knowledge of the factors that determine whether a bat chooses to live in a roost or not.

If your bat box is empty it may be because:

  • The bats in the area reside in a nearby safe roost and may decide not to leave their home unless they are excluded from a house roof, for example.

  • The bat house is being disturbed too much, e.g. shining a flashlight into the house every day or during the night to see if bats have moved in. The house should not be checked more than once a fortnight, but the tell tale signs of occupancy is a collection of guano on the ground below the box.

  • The bat house is not getting enough sunlight. Shrubs and bushes around the bat house may have grown to such an extent that they prevent sunlight from warming up the bat house. Building a new lapa or other structure in front of the bat house can also block the sunlight, so observe the position of the sun carefully and consider it for all seasons before installing the bat house. Ideally the bat house should be in a position where it can absord the north westerly sun in the late afternoon.

  • Insecticides in the garden or on crops that are poisonous to mammals when taken orally, may mean the bats have either died from eating insects contaminated by the chemical or they may have moved to safer grounds. Refrain from using obnoxious insecticides; this will benefit the entire environment.

  • The food source for the bats has decreased. This may happen when insects decline during winter, which is natural, or when large spaces of grassland or bushes have been cleared around the bat house. In both cases the bats will probably return when their food source returns.

  • Your bat house is too wet or cold inside. This may happen if the bat house is not maintained and rainwater leaks in or the bat house is wrongly positioned. Bats like warm, dry roosts and will move to such a place if their home is too cold and wet. EcoSolutions offers a standard maintenance service with their bat houses.

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Bat species

The Order of bats, called Chiroptera by scientists, is the most diverse group of mammals in the world second only to the Order Rodentia (rodents). There are over 1100 species of bats, which occur in all parts of the world except for the most extreme desert and polar regions.

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Ecosystem service provided by bats

Biological control was originally defined as “the action of parasites, predators, or pathogens in maintaining another organism’s population density at a lower average than would occur in their absence.” By this definition, biological control differentiates itself from other pest management techniques in that it operates in a density-dependant manner, i.e. natural enemies will increase in intensity to control a similarly increasing population of pests. In an ecological sense, biological control can be seen as a strategy to restore biodiversity in agroecosystems by adding ‘missing’ entomophagous (insect eating) insects or by enhancing naturally occurring predators through habitat management.

South Africa is classified among the three world leaders in biological control of invasive plants, and more than 80 biological control agents have been released to control 35 problem plant species (Agricultural Research Council; The principles of Biological Control of Weeds). Caution should however be taken when importing foreign control agents. The Cane Toads in Australia which originally introduced to control the native Cane Beetle which causes huge damage to sugar cane plantations, are a perfect example of biological controls gone wrong. Originally introduced from Hawaii in 1935, the 102 originators bred with huge success and now number some 200 million and are known to spread diseases affecting local biodiversity ( "Institute for Molecular Bioscience, Killing off the cane toad").

With this in mind, a local approach should always be considered first and should be the driving force behind many burgeoning bio-control projects. One such project that Ecosolutions has recently undertaken is an investigation into the degree to which bats can exert population control on certain pest insect species, such as the False coddling moth.

Bats belong to the order of mammals called Chiroptera, meaning ‘hand-wing’. There are more than 1 100 recognised species of bats on the world, almost one fifth of the total 5416 mammalian species listed by Wilson and Reader (2005). Bats occur worldwide, except in extreme polar and desert habitats and Southern Africa is home to 75 species.

Traditionally bats have been characterised into two sub-orders, Megachiroptera and Microchiroptera, although researchers have proposed alternate views of chiropteran phylogeny and classification. For the sake of simplicity we will stick to the traditional method. Megachiroptera or fruit eating bats are responsible for pollinating huge tracts of land whilst Microchiroptera or insect eating bats are known as natures pesticides. Insectivorous bats are by far the larger group and should be welcome guests in any ecosystem. A colony of 300 000 bats in the De Hoop Nature Reserve consumes an estimated 100 tonnes of insects per year whilst a study in the USA estimated that a colony of 150 Big Brown Bats can eat up to 1.3 million insects a year (Whitaker, J.O., Am. Midl. Nat. 134, 346).

Using bats as a control measure in agriculture is no new science. Certain parts of the Southern USA and in particular, areas in Texas are home to colonies of over 1 million bats. Studies have been conducted in several of these areas to calculate the eco-agricultural contribution by bats, and a conservative estimate has put this figure at US$3.7 billion dollars, whilst other estimates have predicted a potential impact in excess of US$50 billion. These figures take into account a number of different factors including the reduced costs of pesticide applications that are not needed to suppress pests consumed by bats but do not include ‘downstream’ factors of reduced pesticide exposure to ecosystems which could be substantial (Boyles, JG. et al, Economic Importance of Bats in Agriculture, Science 332(6025): 41-42).

Our current work has the primary objective of establishing the agro-economic benefits provided by bats. Through habitat enhancement and the provision of roosting sites it is possible to encourage greater habitation of bats in and around areas where their ‘pest control services’ are most needed. As a result of our ongoing investigations and regular monitoring of sites we aim to establish traits that are most beneficial in encouraging bat habitation. The information collected from these investigations will go a long way to providing robust data in support of the contributions bats can have in agriculture which will further add to the conservation of these animals.

The initial phase of the project began in October 2013 with bat houses being installed across 10 farms in the Western and Eastern Cape.

If you are interested in the project or know of someone who is already undertaking something of a similar nature please let us know.


A view looking up at a range of our bat boxes installed on a farm in the Eastern Cape

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Bats and Stables

The incorporation of bat houses in the mitigation of African Horse Sickness (AHS) within Stable and Equine environments.

 

Primarily, bats reduce insect numbers in two ways. The first is direct predation, which roughly translates into how many insects a bat or a bat colony consume per night. The number of insects consumed by a bat varies considerably by species, season and reproductive cycle. It is estimated that a Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) in captivity consumes roughly 25% of its body weight in insects each night. Obviously, under natural conditions, this intake would increase as greater energy expenditure is required in the actual predation process. It is estimated that at a peak night of lactation, a 7,9g Little Brown Bat needs to consume 9.9g of insects- over 100% of its body weight (Kurta et al., 2010). This increase in consumption is a result of the costly energetic expenditures required during the reproductive cycle. At peak lactation, a female Brazilian Free-tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) can consume up to 70% of her body weight in insects each night. Like the Little Brown Bat, the Cape Serotine Bat (Neoromicia capensis) weighs between 6 - 10g. On average, our household mosquito weighs 2.5mg. There are 1000 milligrams to a gram (just a reminder). If we have an 8g bat exclusively eating 2.5mg mosquitoes nightly and requiring a conservative 65% of its body weight to sustain it, we come up with a mosquito consumption of 2080 mosquitoes per night.  Simultaneously, this also disproves the “bat flying into your hair” theory.  Requiring a nightly quota of 2000 mosquitoes, it’s not that they don’t want to fly into your hair, it’s just that they really don’t have the time. 

Secondly, bats exert significant pressure on insect populations through behavioural trait mediation. Tympanic insects can detect the use of echolocation used by bats and consequently, will attempt to evade and avoid predation (Fenton & Fullard, 1979). Tympanic moths exhibit different responses to bat echolocation relating to both the distance from the bat and the frequency of the echolocation pulses (Roeder, 1964; Acharya & Fenton, 1992). Moths at a distance from the bat will often flee, while moths closer to the source may attempt to evade more imminent predation risk through employing irregular flight patterns, power dives or passive falls (Roeder, 1964).  In addition to the response of various moths to the distance from the source of the echolocation pulse, an evasive response to the repetition rate of the pulse has also been recorded.  The inference is that moths will respond to both the audibility of the pulse and the frequency of the pulse, thus enabling moths to determine bat "feeding buzz" and respond accordingly (Roeder, 1964). Predator avoidance behaviour is so acute in some pyralid and noctuid moths that they will abort sexually orientated flight response to pheromone broadcasting females (Acharya and McNeil 1998). The predator avoidance behaviour recorded in moths is thought to be the major cause of the 50% reduction in damage by Corn Borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) when bat like ultrasound pulses were broadcasted over corn farms in the US (Long & Hogan, 1998). The benefits of trait mediation may also extend to the suppression of herbivorous arthropods that may not be the selected dietary preference for insectivorous bats where aggregations of specific insect species are preferred (Preisser et al., 2005).

In addition to the increased insect consumption and the insect behaviour modification associated with higher bat populations in agriculture, the implementation of successful bat house programs may additionally lead to a reduction in the number of insecticide applications required annually. Aside from the cost benefits associated with reduced insecticide applications (Banaszkiewicz, 2010), it is held that the reduced number of applications will prolong the evolved resistance period by the target species to the insecticides active ingredient.
The incorporation of insectivorous bats into the management and control of herbivorous arthropods and the potential reduction of insecticide applications associated with this will lower the risk of insecticide residues reaching consumers and reduce the risk to human health.

To proceed to order directly, please click here.

Implementation:

Although the study of artificial roost site selection in insectivorous bats is ongoing, there are some things of which we are now reasonably certain.  We know that location, orientation, type of box, environment and proximity to water are all important components in turning a bat house into an occupied bat house. A project undertaken by EcoSolutions in conjunction with the University of Venda and Subtrop, placed 100 bat houses within Macadamia nut orchards to assess the mitigation potential of bats on Stink bug populations. A year after installation, bat house occupancy has been recorded at all sites. EcoSolutions currently installs and manages bat house projects nationally. Through satellite imagery, we assist with the correct placement of bat banks on farms, the correct bat house designs ideally suited for potential bat occupancy and additionally, the installation, management and service of bat houses within these projects. 

Artificial roost sites are used in various ways by different bat species, as well as by individuals of the same species. Bat houses may be used as maternity roosts, hibernacula, bachelor roosts and nocturnal “resting” roost sites.  The requirement parameters between a maternity roost site and a "resting” site during a night of hunting, will differ. Bats are also known to move from one roost site to another as a consequence of predation pressure (the roost has been identified and is frequently visited by a predator of bats, i.e. a cat, or genet), by parasite pressure (increased mite and or lice numbers), or proximity to prey (bats will move to sites with higher insect numbers for consecutive nights in order to maximise feeding opportunity). It is for this reason, in conjunction with box design preference, that different box designs are incorporated into one bat bank.

To proceed to order directly, please click here.

The critical components:

EcoSolutions specialises, not only in the manufacture of bat houses but more importantly, maximising the potential occupancy of those houses. It would be fair to say that our unoccupied bat houses are just as important to us as our occupied ones. The success or failure of bat house design, placement, orientation, height, etc. provides us with the tools to build a bat house success blueprint. Bat houses and their use in an integrated pest management strategy is not a cottage industry, it is a science. Over the last 10 years, we have collected information designed to provide us and our clients with the most potentially viable bat house and integrated pest management programme. The key to this success depends primarily on the servicing and monitoring of our bat house programmes. During the bi-annual service we check for occupancy, we check bat house condition and replace or repair when necessary. We collect temperature data from data loggers, we collect guano for DNA marker analysis which provides us with information on both the bat species who utilise the bat houses as well as the prey species which they consume.

Where new information has provided us with greater insight into design, location or orientation of bat houses, we implement these improvements during the course of the bi-annual service. The service component is critical in order to facilitate occupancy and to ensure continued occupancy.

To proceed to order directly, please click here.

Bat boxes:

In order to provide a selection of artificial roosts appealing to both bats of the same species as well as bats from different species, we use 3 fundamental designs. These are the Nursery box, the Six-Chamber box and the Old George box (an American design).  The positioning of these 3 designs in parallel allows a greater range of roosting sites from which bats can choose.

It is always ideal to place 2 bat banks in 2 different locations within a site. As mentioned in the implementation paragraph above, this will allow bats to move between the 2 sites and this increases occupancy potential.

Once the environmental considerations have been addressed, the internal design of the bat box is the key to its success. The netted internal “fins” allow bats to obtain purchase when moving within this artificial roost site. The depth and height of the box allow bats to choose areas of the box that suit their ever changing temperature requirements. The landing pad beneath the box allows bats and pups to easily access the box and also allows bats to “light test” prior to emergence. It is important for the box to be well sealed and “calked’ which prevents light and water from entering the dark recesses of the box. All of our boxes are manufactured using recycled wood and are treated with Woodoc 55.

All our installed bat banks are recorded on Google maps and are regularly updated with occupancy and service information.

Please find an example of an interactive map below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To proceed to order directly, please click here

 

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Bats and IPM

Bats as a component of Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

 

Primarily, bats reduce insect numbers in two ways. The first is direct predation, which roughly translates into how many insects a bat or a bat colony consume per night. The number of insects consumed by a bat varies considerably by species, season and reproductive cycle. It is estimated that a Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) in captivity consumes roughly 25% of its body weight in insects each night. Obviously, under natural conditions, this intake would increase as greater energy expenditure is required in the actual predation process. It is estimated that at a peak night of lactation, a 7,9g Little Brown Bat needs to consume 9.9g of insects- over 100% of its body weight (Kurta et al., 2010). This increase in consumption is a result of the costly energetic expenditures required during the reproductive cycle. At peak lactation, a female Brazilian Free-tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) can consume up to 70% of her body weight in insects each night. Like the Little Brown Bat, the Cape Serotine Bat (Neoromicia capensis) weighs between 6 - 10g. On average, our household mosquito weighs 2.5mg. There are 1000 milligrams to a gram (just a reminder). If we have an 8g bat exclusively eating 2.5mg mosquitoes nightly and requiring a conservative 65% of its body weight to sustain it, we come up with a mosquito consumption of 2080 mosquitoes per night.  Simultaneously, this also disproves the “bat flying into your hair” theory.  Requiring a nightly quota of 2000 mosquitoes, it’s not that they don’t want to fly into your hair, it’s just that they really don’t have the time. 

Secondly, bats exert significant pressure on insect populations through behavioural trait mediation. Tympanic insects can detect the use of echolocation used by bats and consequently, will attempt to evade and avoid predation (Fenton & Fullard, 1979). Tympanic moths exhibit different responses to bat echolocation relating to both the distance from the bat and the frequency of the echolocation pulses (Roeder, 1964; Acharya & Fenton, 1992). Moths at a distance from the bat will often flee, while moths closer to the source may attempt to evade more imminent predation risk through employing irregular flight patterns, power dives or passive falls (Roeder, 1964).  In addition to the response of various moths to the distance from the source of the echolocation pulse, an evasive response to the repetition rate of the pulse has also been recorded.  The inference is that moths will respond to both the audibility of the pulse and the frequency of the pulse, thus enabling moths to determine bat "feeding buzz" and respond accordingly (Roeder, 1964). Predator avoidance behaviour is so acute in some pyralid and noctuid moths that they will abort sexually orientated flight response to pheromone broadcasting females (Acharya and McNeil 1998). The predator avoidance behaviour recorded in moths is thought to be the major cause of the 50% reduction in damage by Corn Borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) when bat like ultrasound pulses were broadcasted over corn farms in the US (Long & Hogan, 1998). The benefits of trait mediation may also extend to the suppression of herbivorous arthropods that may not be the selected dietary preference for insectivorous bats where aggregations of specific insect species are preferred (Preisser et al., 2005).

In addition to the increased insect consumption and the insect behaviour modification associated with higher bat populations in agriculture, the implementation of successful bat house programs may additionally lead to a reduction in the number of insecticide applications required annually. Aside from the cost benefits associated with reduced insecticide applications (Banaszkiewicz, 2010), it is held that the reduced number of applications will prolong the evolved resistance period by the target species to the insecticides active ingredient.
The incorporation of insectivorous bats into the management and control of herbivorous arthropods and the potential reduction of insecticide applications associated with this will lower the risk of insecticide residues reaching consumers and reduce the risk to human health.

To proceed to order directly, please click here.

Implementation:

Although the study of artificial roost site selection in insectivorous bats is ongoing, there are some things of which we are now reasonably certain.  We know that location, orientation, type of box, environment and proximity to water are all important components in turning a bat house into an occupied bat house. A project undertaken by EcoSolutions in conjunction with the University of Venda and Subtrop, placed 100 bat houses within Macadamia nut orchards to assess the mitigation potential of bats on Stink bug populations. A year after installation, bat house occupancy has been recorded at all sites. EcoSolutions currently installs and manages bat house projects nationally. Through satellite imagery, we assist with the correct placement of bat banks on farms, the correct bat house designs ideally suited for potential bat occupancy and additionally, the installation, management and service of bat houses within these projects. 

Artificial roost sites are used in various ways by different bat species, as well as by individuals of the same species. Bat houses may be used as maternity roosts, hibernacula, bachelor roosts and nocturnal “resting” roost sites.  The requirement parameters between a maternity roost site and a "resting” site during a night of hunting, will differ. Bats are also known to move from one roost site to another as a consequence of predation pressure (the roost has been identified and is frequently visited by a predator of bats, i.e. a cat, or genet), by parasite pressure (increased mite and or lice numbers), or proximity to prey (bats will move to sites with higher insect numbers for consecutive nights in order to maximise feeding opportunity). It is for this reason, in conjunction with box design preference, that different box designs are incorporated into one bat bank.

To proceed to order directly, please click here.

The critical components:

EcoSolutions specialises, not only in the manufacture of bat houses but more importantly, maximising the potential occupancy of those houses. It would be fair to say that our unoccupied bat houses are just as important to us as our occupied ones. The success or failure of bat house design, placement, orientation, height, etc. provides us with the tools to build a bat house success blueprint. Bat houses and their use in an integrated pest management strategy is not a cottage industry, it is a science. Over the last 10 years, we have collected information designed to provide us and our clients with the most potentially viable bat house and integrated pest management programme. The key to this success depends primarily on the servicing and monitoring of our bat house programmes. During the bi-annual service we check for occupancy, we check bat house condition and replace or repair when necessary. We collect temperature data from data loggers, we collect guano for DNA marker analysis which provides us with information on both the bat species who utilise the bat houses as well as the prey species which they consume.

Where new information has provided us with greater insight into design, location or orientation of bat houses, we implement these improvements during the course of the bi-annual service. The service component is critical in order to facilitate occupancy and to ensure continued occupancy.

To proceed to order directly, please click here.

Bat boxes:

In order to provide a selection of artificial roosts appealing to both bats of the same species as well as bats from different species, we use 3 fundamental designs. These are the Nursery box, the Six-Chamber box and the Old George box (an American design).  The positioning of these 3 designs in parallel allows a greater range of roosting sites from which bats can choose.

It is always ideal to place 2 bat banks in 2 different locations within a site. As mentioned in the implementation paragraph above, this will allow bats to move between the 2 sites and this increases occupancy potential.

Once the environmental considerations have been addressed, the internal design of the bat box is the key to its success. The netted internal “fins” allow bats to obtain purchase when moving within this artificial roost site. The depth and height of the box allow bats to choose areas of the box that suit their ever changing temperature requirements. The landing pad beneath the box allows bats and pups to easily access the box and also allows bats to “light test” prior to emergence. It is important for the box to be well sealed and “calked’ which prevents light and water from entering the dark recesses of the box. All of our boxes are manufactured using recycled wood and are treated with Woodoc 55.

All our installed bat banks are recorded on Google maps and are regularly updated with occupancy and service information.

Please find an example of an interactive map below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To proceed to order directly, please click here

 

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Bat Exclusions

Removing bats from ceilings in an environmentally friendly way

We are very proud to announce that EcoSolutions is the now fully permitted by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural development (GDARD) to ethically exclude bats from buildings in Gauteng. At this stage, we are also the ONLY permitted company accredited by GDARD to undertake bat exclusions in Gauteng.

The Legal status of bats

The National Environmental Management: Biodiversity (NEMBA) Act 10 of 2004

Bats are afforded legal protection under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004 under Chapter 4, Part 2: Threatened or Protected Ecosystems and Species. According to NEMBA Act 10 of 2004 section 56, bats are a protected species in South Africa due to bats being indigenous to the country.

The Gauteng Nature Conservation Bill

It states in chapter 2 part 1 of the Gauteng Nature Conservation Bill that no person may, without a permit – (a) export; 18 (b) import; (c) hunt, outside the open hunting season (d) transport; (e) catch; (f) capture; (g) keep; or (h) trade in protected wild animals and protected birds.

Conflict between bats and humans
There is often conflict between bats and humans within estates and residential properties throughout Southern Africa. There is generally an abundance of prey for insectivorous bats in these areas, resulting in large roosts and healthy population densities, however, there is also, generally, a shortage of suitable roost sites. Traditionally, bats would utilise caves, dead trees and natural cavities in which to roost but the removal of dead trees within the urban landscape has forced bats to seek alternative roost sites, i.e. roofs and ceilings. Bats are very sensitive to disturbances in their roost and become disorientated if removed. We advise not to capture, catch or transport bats rather contact EcoSolutions. Please do not disturb bats during hibernation season or breeding season, as this is traumatising for the species especially if they have babies.

Bats as an environmental asset
Everything in the environment has its place. Everything is inter-connected and therefore it is of utmost importance to respect the fact that bats have value in our everyday lives. Bats are known for eating beetles, plant-sucking bugs, flies, flying termites, moths and lacewings. Annoying insects, which we as humans do not want around our homes. Bats only produce one pup a year and this makes them a slow breeding species. If people remove bats in an unethical manner, there will be a decline in the species and this will cause an increase of insects which thus affects the balance of nature. Bats are a wonderful vital environmental asset and should be catered for in every environmentally friendly home. Please find the link to the article about the insatiable appetite of insectivorous bats.

Please find a link to an article found on our website about the insatiable appetite of insectivorous bats: Batty about Bats.

How to identify that there are bats in your roof
Squeaking and scratching sounds could be an indication of bats in your ceiling. The presence of guano and white streaks of bat urine can sometimes be found on the walls, as well as the accumulation of dirt and grease.

Bat Exclusion Process

The bat exclusion process is a difficult process but it is the only ethically and environmentally friendly efficient way of removing bats from the roofs of suburban areas. There are many misconceptions about how to go about removing bats. There is a tendency of pest control companies using unethical and un-environmentally friendly methods such as spraying bats with ammonia and other types of chemicals or disturbing bats during their hibernation season and removing bat pups. This is unethical and is illegal in the terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity (NEMBA) Act 10 of 2004 and the Gauteng Nature Conservation Bill.  Bats have a very strong tendency toward site fidelity, which means they will return to their roost sites faithfully year after year. Often if bats are removed there is a higher chance that they will return to their roost site a few months later.

The complexity involved with bat exclusions cannot be understated. Bats have the ability to fit through the smallest gap to gain access to the roost from which they have been excluded.  All entry and exit points need to be identified and sealed. Our exclusions maintain a focus of unobtrusive non-visible sealing. This is done using exclusion foam or, where required, a suitable mesh netting that can be forced into the gaps. The primary entrance and exit point requires the fitment of an EcoSolutions ‘one-way valve’ which allows the current roosting bats the opportunity to leave but prevents them from re-entering. The valve will stay in position until the follow up to make certain that all the bats have vacated the roof. Once the bats have abandoned the roof, the one-way valve will be removed and the remaining hole permanently sealed. At the follow up visit, the team will trim the excess exclusion foam at each unit - the foam expands as it dries - and remove the one-way valves and seal any additional gaps.

Requirements for a bat exclusion consultation
EcoSolutions will send out a consultant out to your site, as all requirements need to be checked in the event of undertaking an exclusion process. A quote will be sent and if there is an acceptance of the quote EcoSolutions will undertake the bat exclusion process at the specific site. Please bear in mind that bats are very difficult to get rid of and therefore it is necessary to have a follow up to the bat exclusion process in order to make sure that every gap has been closed and that every possible entry and exit gaps in the ceiling have been sealed and dealt with efficiently in order to prevent bats from re-entering the ceiling.

With any type of exclusion, an alternative should always be provided to compensate for the loss of that animal’s roost site. If we do not provide alternative roosting sites, i.e. a bat box, the bats will attempt to gain access through another entry point into your ceiling. The installation of a bat box increases the success of the exclusion.

EcoSolutions is an environmentally responsible company and as a consequence of this, we do not undertake bat exclusions without providing the compensatory site for bats that have been disturbed in this manner.

Most common South African Bat Species
Bats belonging to the suborder microchiroptera are small and insectivorous using echolocation to hunt prey at night on the wing. The two species most prevalent in Gauteng are the Cape Serotine Bat (Neoromicia capensis) and Yellow House Bat (Scotophilus dingani).

Cape Serotine Bat (Neoromicia capensis): Small brownish bat with a greyish underbelly and semi-scruffy fur, but its colour is very variable, depending on the region in which it is found. The Serotine Bat has a relatively small snout and mouth with a dome-like forehead. Wing membranes are dark-coloured and the forearm length is about 29-38 mm with a mass of 4-10 grams.

 

Yellow House Bat (Scotophilus dingani): A light brown bat with prominent yellow underbelly, eyes are clearly visible and the snout is short and broad. Yellow House Bats are medium-sized bats that are regularly seen in suburban areas flying at dusk. The forearm length is 50-58 mm and its mass is about 14-42g.

 

Roosting habits:
Traditionally bats would utilise caves, dead trees and natural cavities but the historical removal of dead wood for fuel has forced bats to look for and also benefit from artificial roost sites. These are often the roofs and eaves of houses and other structures. Bats are a common concern in estates throughout Southern Africa. This can be difficult for house owners as bats can cause noise at night in the roof and owners do not want guano in their roofs.

Colonies of Yellow House Bats living in a house roof will usually not reach more than a dozen bats in Gauteng, whilst Serotines live in colonies of up to 20 individuals, both relatively small colonies. Occasionally the Yellow House Bats share a home with the smaller Cape Serotine Bat, and may be distinguished from the latter in flight by its larger wing size and high speed. Due to the lack of appropriate roosting sites, bats have been found to roost in the roofs of suburban areas. Both species are opportunistic crevice or hollow dwellers and usually prefer roofs with a ceiling in suburban areas, hiding between the wooden rafters and brickwork inside the roof. Due to their crevice dwelling habits, both these species will easily and readily take up occupancy in manmade bat boxes.

Breeding:
Females give birth only once a year to single young, twins or maybe even triplets. Young are born in the warm summer months any time from October to March.

Diet:
There is usually an abundance of prey for insectivorous bats however bats mostly enjoy eating beetles, plant-sucking bugs, flies, flying termites, moths and lacewings.

For further information on bats species in South Africa, please follow the link.

Bats and diseases
Bats are carriers of the rabies virus and the only way it can be transferred from bats to humans is through a bite or scratch. The bats saliva must come into contact with the human’s mucous membranes in order to catch the disease. There is no risk to the public catching the disease if they do not handle the bats. The rabies virus cannot be caught by bats flying into your hair, touching a bat or touching bat guano.
For any bat queries, call EcoSolutions on 011 791 7326 or 072 365 9777.

 

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Reviews

Karen Stander
Our box have a spotted eagle owl! We stay on a smallholding in the Chancliff area, Krugersdorp and discovered that our recently serviced owl box, has a long awaited inhabitant! So glad and thankful to have the privilege of sharing our piece of nature with hopefully a breading pair soon! Have to tell you the bats are also happily occupying their box!

Cheryl Siewierski
Brilliant service from hugely knowledgeable installers at our home in Harties this morning. We are thrilled with our new bat and owl boxes and sure the residents of these will be too! Excellent to know that EcoSolutions also monitors numbers and patterns of the owls in perpetuity. Thank you!

Beryl Scott-Payet
Fantastic, thanks to all at Eco Solutions for your support and help with Strix (our injured owl) and the installations of the boxes and houses at Steyn City.

 

Owl Ring Recoveries


 

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