Bat populations are declining nationwide, and some species are so rare that they are seen infrequently if at all. Most of our local species are species of special concern or declining in numbers, due to loss of foraging habitat, lack of safe roosting space, and pesticide use. They truly need all the help they can get. Here are some of the ways you can get involved.
Save their habitat:
Bats need streams, forests, fields, marshes and chaparral to forage for insects or nectar, and to find safe roosts to raise their pups. As one biologist told us, "All the bat houses in the world won't help bats if they don't have any natural habitat left in which they can hunt insects." There are many groups working in southern California to preserve open spaces and natural areas for our wild neighbors. The Nature Conservancy buys land in order to preserve it, and works with many local government agencies and land trusts. The Sierra Club has also saved much open space in California, and can put you in contact with a local group trying to save habitat in your area.
San Dieguito River Park
San Dieguito River Park
Photo courtesy of
Sponsor or "Adopt" a bat:
To support bat conservation and to learn more about different species, you can sponsor a rescued bat. Bat Conservation International, Bat World Sanctuary, and the Organization for Bat Conservation have several types of bats available for adoption/sponsorship at different levels, and their conservation and outreach efforts save thousands of bats throughout the year, all around the world.
Ian, an Orphaned Red Bat Pup
An Orphaned Red Bat Pup
Photo by Cindy Myers
of Project Wildlife
Put up a bat house:
There is bat house information at Bat Conservation International, if you want to build your own bat house for a scouting or class project. They have info on where to install your bat house, and tips to help attract the little tenants. If you want to buy one pre-assembled, you can purchase them from the BCI catalog or buy one of BCI's recommended models/designs or an Organization for Bat Conservation bat house. Another good site is Bat Conservation and Management, which has a wealth of bat house information, and Bat World Sanctuary also has info. However, because San Diego CA has a more arid climate and fewer bats than other parts of the country, there are no guarantees that a bat house will attract bats even if it meets all the proper design, color, size, and placement requirements. There must be bats in the area, they must find the bat house, and they must like it better than their current roost situation. The small single-chambered bat houses are unlikely to attract any bat tenants in San Diego; bat houses with at least two or three roosting chambers are more likely to succeed here. Depending on the location chosen, you may also need to install a predator guard to protect the colony.
Installing A Bat House
Installing a Bat House
Photo by Joe Spencer of
Bat House Forum
Don't trim your palm trees:
At least nine US bat species, including the Western Yellow Bat and the Big Brown Bat, roost under the dried fronds hanging from tall palm trees, and cosmetic trimming is one of the primary threats to Yellow Bats here. If you trim these natural bat houses, you reduce the available housing for these rare bats, and may actually cut pups out of the trees if it's done during maternity season (April-September). Several bat species also hibernate beneath these fronds in the winter. Many birds, such as orioles, build their nests in palm fronds, so try to cut native wildlife some slack and don't cut down their homes. You can put a simple predator guard around the tree trunk to keep out rats and other undesirables, which could climb up and eat the bat pups or bird chicks.
Yellow Bat on Palm Frond
Yellow Bat on Palm Frond
© Photo by Merlin Tuttle
Bat Conservation International
Educate other people:
Bats desperately need human allies if they are to survive. The more people you can teach about the benefits of bats, the more people will want to help them. Write letters to your local parks department and your city, to explain the benefits of bats and encourage them to provide habitat and protection. We can all help by dispelling harmful superstitions and myths which make people fear bats. Bat Conservation International has pages and pages of facts, trivia, pictures, links, books, gifts, you name it! Bat World also has a resource page for teachers and young students, and the Organization for Bat Conservation has another informative website for bat fans.
Wahlberg's Epauletted Bat and baby
Wahlberg's Epauletted Bat and baby
Photo by Dr. B. Whiting of
Ngwenya Lodge, South Africa
Keep your cat indoors:
Cats are skilled predators, and many studies have documented the carnage that our non-native cats inflict on local songbird and small mammal populations. In a natural setting these birds, bats and other hapless critters would never have a predator base as large as we have made it, by letting our housecats loose. In southern California housecats are also one of the primary food sources for coyotes, and if the coyotes don't get them, the cars probably will. Do bats and birds a favor, and keep your cat indoors. Your cat won't bring home fleas, worms or diseases, and bats and songbirds and lizards will be safer.
Huma, a Formerly Feral Indoor Cat
Huma, an Indoor Cat
Photo by Cindy Myers of
Bats of San Diego County
Prevent wildlife drownings in pools & troughs:
Bats, frogs, baby birds and mice often get trapped in swimming pools after approaching for a drink of water, and millions of these animals drown every year. Bats have to swoop in for a drink on the fly. If they miscalculate their approach and end up in the water, they can swim but will drown eventually if there is no way for them to climb out. A wildlife biologist in Maryland invented The Froglog, an inexpensive escape device for small animals to safely climb out of swimming pools. Bat Conservation International has info and a downloadable brochure on providing safe drinking water for bats and other wildlife. With ongoing drought in the western US and declining natural water sources for our wild neighbors, providing safe access to water is a way to help.
Townsend's Big-eared Bat
Townsend's Big-eared Bat
© Photo by Merlin Tuttle
Bat Conservation International

General Bat Questions?