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April 1, 2021 at 5:12 pm

New Houses on Campus: Because Bats Need Sustainable Living Spaces, Too!

One of the new bat houses on campus.

Mikayla Schuyler and Dr. Kim Thompson put a roof on a bat house. Photo by Laura Bilson

From Ohio University News

The Ohio University Sustainable Living Hub has added housing to its project list—students are putting up six bat houses around campus in the next few weeks.

“Many people may be afraid of bats, especially when they find their way into your home or dorm, but they are only just little things who are looking for a warm place to perch, and I just love them,” says Mikayla Schuyler, who is in OHIO’s Climate and Sustainability Ambassadors club and the Green Initiative.

“The goal of having bat houses up is to give them a place to live in their neck of the woods that is safe, cozy, and near lots of food and water. It ends up helping both the humans and the bats,” she adds.

Dr. Kim Thompson and Mikayla Schuyler screw bat houses to a post.

Dr. Kim Thompson and Mikayla Schuyler mount the bat houses on 16-foot posts. Photo by Laura Bilson

How will the hub measure success for the new winged mammal environment?

“Each step we complete along the way is success, to me. Researching the areas, climates, and other factors that make for the best bat houses possible – success! Working with a small group to build the houses – success! Walking around with Dr. Kim Thompson, mounting the boxes to their poles and seeing where the bats new homes will be – success!” exclaims Schuyler.

“In fact, while we were on that walk mounting houses, a little girl who couldn’t have been any older than 6 stopped us and asked if we were installing bat houses. And she was so happy and excited to learn about all these bats who would be getting a new home – that might have been one of my most favorite successes of the project so far!”

From left, Abby Cox, Maya Cox and Mikayla Schuyler. Photo by Kim Thompson

Schuyler, who is double majoring in music production and recording industry and outdoor recreation and education, came to the sustainability club and Green Initiative through her roommate. Plus, she knew Thompson from a course—PBIO 1000 Plants and the Global Environment—her freshman year.

“With COVID, it is often difficult to be super active in the club, but I thoroughly enjoyed that course, so I chose to help with the bat houses!”

Schuyler says the hardest part of the project was actually building the bat houses, which were constructed by students from kits that Bat Conservation and Management provided. “Luckily that wasn’t too hard thanks to previous work with power tools and construction that I have had with my dad.”

Each bat house holds up to 78 bats in the three chambers and 32 on the perch panel on the post. There are three baffles that make up the chambers that allow the bats to perch or move around to avoid predation.

Funding for the project came from PepsiCo Zero Impact Fund and Ohio University Academic Innovation Accelerator.

From Abby Vanbuskirk (top) and Maya Cox build bat houses.

Abby and Maya Cox build bat houses. Photo by Steel Brooks

Where are the bat houses located on campus?

One will be on the Schoonover green roof and the other five will be on the Ridges: one is part of the Outdoor Museum; two will be in the Ridges Land Lab, and two will be off the nature trail near the mini golf course, says Thompson, director of the Sustainable Living Hub and associate professor of Environmental & Plant Biology.

“I love bats and I think the most rewarding part has been giving those little creatures a safe home. I used to be an RA and we had a couple of bats in our building that I just know would be so much happier in a house of their own because the process for a bat to be being trapped, rehabilitated, and released can be extremely stressful and confusing for them,” Schuyler adds.

From left, Alex Sines, Abby Vanbuskirk and Fiona Daviswork on bat house construction.

From left, Alex Sines, Abby Vanbuskirk and Fiona Davis work on bat house construction. Photo by Steel Brooks

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