Batty about Bats

Canyon Bat formerly known as Western Pipistrelle, Calif.

Canyon Bat formerly known as Western Pipistrelle–Calif.

If you haven’t seen any bats yet this season–and it’s summer where you live–I am hoping this post gets you outdoors at dusk or dawn, looking for these marvelous creatures that benefit our earth.


Bats are not only superb pollinators on our planet, but they also eat so many bugs that they are considered an alternative to pesticides.  There are about 1,000 species of bats in the world; they occupy all continents except Antarctica, and live where it is warm.


The most predominate bat at my house is the Canyon Bat, aka the Western Pipistrelle.   The smallest bat in the U.S., it is about 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) long with a wingspan no wider than your hand.  This is a microbat, and it mostly eats insects.  Other bats, like the Flying Foxes in Australia, are bigger; they’re megabats, and generally eat fruit.


The best way to see a bat is just when the light of day is leaving or arriving.  At dusk the bats are leaving their roost and going out for a night of feeding.  Vice versa in the morning when they’re returning.  By looking up at the sky, you can best see their silhouette.


Canyon Bat in patio umbrella

Canyon Bat in patio umbrella

A rural resident, lately I’ve had more luck with seeing them at dawn, about one morning a week I get lucky.  I watch him or her circle a few times, then disappear into a tiny crack; usually around the house, behind the eaves, sometimes in or around the boulders or trees.  In cities they like bridges and buildings.


We have a bat house where there is almost always a bat, and the all-time favorite bat hotel:  inside the folded patio umbrella.   The canyon bat roosts solo, unlike other bats who live in colonies.


Fortunately we’re living in a time when the beauty of bats is celebrated.  We can thank Merlin Tuttle for that.  The son of a biology teacher, Merlin started caving at a young age, made his own bat discoveries in the 1950s.  Since then he has studied and followed bats, directed programs, and brought conservation awareness to millions of people.  His incredible bat photography has educated the world.  Read more about Merlin Tuttle here.


To learn more about bats, you can start with Merlin Tuttle’s website.  To see a bat in the wild, break up your routine and take a walk outside one day at dawn or dusk…and look to the sky.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander

68 thoughts on “Batty about Bats

    • They are really tricky to capture, but Athena has had luck with the umbrella background contrasting the bat. She snapped the lime green photo before work one day. While snapping this photo, she was a bit startled to find another canyon bat was inches away from her face! lol. Thanks very much Cindy. 🙂

  1. Oh I remember I visited a cave full of bats in Bali – it was very smelly 😦 but the cave was well protected by the locals, somewhat about nature and religious matter. It is interesting to learn about Merlin Tuttle – thanks so much for sharing this Jet!

    • I agree with you on both parts, Ingrid. The umbrella shots work out for the highlighting background, but the bats know they can’t stay there, because the umbrellas are for humans. lol. Thanks so much. 😀

  2. I don’t know if there are bats in my neighborhood but the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County employs bat detectors confirming various species of bats living at the Exposition campus and La Brea Tar Pits… so I am happy they are able to survive in the big city as well as rural areas!

    • I love the La Brea Tar Pits, and now I love them even more! I know how much you enjoy that Museum, Rosyln, and it’s great they have bat detectors. Thanks so much! 😀

  3. Nice blog (as usual) 🙂 We also get bats here in Switzerland at 1400 metres (4,600 feet). They’ve been around for a couple of months now, though I’m not sure where they must go in the winter when the temperature drops to below freezing. E.g. it’s minus 20 degrees C (or -4 F) sometimes. Do they hibernate or migrate like birds I wonder ?

    • Great to hear from you Mike, thanks for your comment. Yes, bats hibernate and migrate, depending on the species. I am quite certain that in Switzerland with those cold temperatures, your species of bat migrates. I hope you see some this summer before they take off…. 😀 😀

    • Bats are tricky to see because they move quickly, and almost always in the dark. I’m delighted you love the bats and have been able to see some, dotr! Thanks so much. 😀

    • I’m delighted you enjoyed the bat post, Amy. I would guess on one of your many walks and hikes outdoors that you may have seen one. Or maybe the Freetails on the bridge in Austin? Appreciate your comment, as always, my friend. 😀

  4. How lucky are you to have been picked as a roost!! Very envious. We are still commiserating on the correct location for brown bat boxes on our property. We have many aerial (and mammalian) predators, so we want to get it right the first time. You might like this post from a few years back when Scott and I went to Bracken Cave in Texas. Photos and video. Quite a sight, if you love 20 million bats circling around your head (and the stink that goes with all it).

    Great photos and I already visited Tuttle’s web site.

      • Absolutely, bats need all the help they can get. I appreciated your blog-plug. BTW I was unable to see Part 1, the link didn’t work; but I sure enjoyed Part 2. Thanks again Shannon. 😀

      • Oh…okay I fixed it. It’s really just a lead-in, a silly ole pic of me and some awesome spider (I like spiders) by a beautiful river. It was our first ever weekend away without kids since we’d started having them. And we celebrated it by watching BATS. Whoop!

      • Incidentally, we saw something similar last week with swallows (purple martins). Nothing on the scale of 20MM, but 1/4 mill was nothing to sneeze at! There’s a post on it as well…with the kids this time. 😀

  5. I’ve noticed that quite a lot of people are afraid and abhor bats. They are very beneficial to ecology. Years ago in New Jersey where I lived I had a house with an attic and bats used to sneak in and live there, maybe half a dozen of them. At sunset you could see the bats going out from almost every house in our neighborhood! They are harmless! Thanks Jet for the nice post. One day I’ll tell you a good anecdote about bats! 🙂

  6. Amazing shots of the bats – interesting and wonderful creatures Jet. We have a couple where we live, but because of the mosquitoes I can’t get out when they are out and about to get a better look at these little guys.

    • Lucky for you, Mary, that the bats are there to eat the mosquitoes. Dawn is a good time too, usually when it’s not yet super hot for the mosquitoes. I enjoyed your comment, Mary — appreciate your visit, as always. 😀

  7. I love, love, love bats and I don’t get to see them nearly as often as I’d like. How lucky you are to be able to see them so regularly. Here in the city, it’s rare for us to spot them. Occasionally, one will fly by our window at dusk, but that is only a rare treat. If we ever move to a dwelling on the ground (we are in a high rise apartment) I am going to put a bat house in our yard! Thank you for this wonderful ode to bats!

    • I’m endlessly amazed, Jeannie, at the wildlife you do spot way up there in your highrise apt. I’m guessing one day you will have a bat house and bats will be in paradise there. Until then, keep looking outside at dusk and dawn, look up into the sky where the silhouettes are easier to spot. Thanks so much my friend, for stopping by. 😀

    • They’re great to have around, aren’t they Bill? Someone consistently eating up the mosquitoes is always welcome. Always a treat to hear from you, dear Bill. 😀

  8. We have just taken possession of a house we bought and we’ve learned there are quite a few bats that have found their way into the attic. Eric plans to build some bat houses to keep them around. My mom used to be terrified of bats. I’m not sure why. But I love having them around for their insect suppression.

  9. Before getting the roof fixed, our attic became a mating ground for bats. Flapping wings over our bed is not something you want to wake up to at three in the morning. We’ve had several occasions this happened where my wife and I would dive on the floor as it swooped from one side of the room to the other. Generally, they look more frightening than they are. Their wingspan is huge, but curled up in a corner somewhere, they’re barely larger than a mouse. Thankfully, the roof is now fixed! 🙂

  10. Jet we don’t have bats here. My guess is that it is too cold for them. Thank you for all of the fascinating information. I would definitely be surprised to find a wee bat in our patio umbrella! likely he would be wearing a knitted sweater.

    • I smiled at the image of a bat wearing a knitted sweater Sue! Wikipedia says there are 18 indigenous species of bats in Canada and it’s a pretty interesting article (link provided). I would’ve thought they all migrate in winter mos., but apparently several species hibernate. Maybe you will see one before winter arrives… as always, a pleasure dear Sue. 😀

      • Maybe one day, Sue, when you’re up at dawn to go flyboarding or zip-lining, a bat will come into your periphery. I sure hope so! Smiling big, sending my best wishes to you…. 😀

    • I agree, Teagan, but that is changing. I was delighted with the positive and optimistic comments here, for instance. Great to see you! Thanks so much for stopping by. 😀

    • We have a rule at our house that the bats can live just about anywhere but the house and the patio umbrella…but our rules aren’t their rules. lol. Thanks for your warm comment, pc. 😀

  11. We have bats here too, what kind? I have absolutely NO idea lol. I once had the pleasure of helping a baby that had fallen on the ground, I guess from a tree lol. They aren’t what people make them out to be. It was so sweet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s