The bat house structures were built specifically for this site and for a large number of bats to inhabit. The project to build and maintain the bat houses is a cross-campus partnership with a lot of expert help from supporters.
The houses combined are designed to house about 750,000 bats. Occupancy varies from house to house, and depends on the time of year, but there are an estimated 450,000-500,000 bats in the colony living in these houses.
The houses are currently managed by the University of Florida.
Bat Houses Update 2022
In September, UF staff and bat experts were able to relocate the bats that lived in the original bat house to the newest one, and removed the old house ahead of Hurricane Ian for the safety of the bats. They hope to raise funds for a new bat house to replace the old one.
Read about this major project from UF News:
Bat House Plans
If you’re interested in building a similar structure, the blueprints for these houses are available through a standard public records request through the University of Florida.
If you’re interested in smaller bat houses for your neighborhood, we do not offer insight or consultation on the planning and construction of bat houses. The Florida Bat Conservancy website is a good starting point for information on backyard bat houses.
Inside the Houses
Although we think of these nocturnal mammals as being asleep all day, they can be quite active, interacting with each other and moving about their roosts.
For several years we were able to offer live views inside and out of the bat houses, but we currently do not have these webcams available. We do have some great recorded footage of a typical bat experience:
Bats flying inside UF Bat House
Preparing to leave the Bat Barn in the evening
This recorded webcam video taken inside the University of Florida bat houses shows a high level of activity after sunset as the bats prepare for their evening egress, after which they consume millions of insects before returning at dawn. This five-minute segment was recording continuously in real-time.
History of the UF Bat House and Bat Barn
The original bat house was built in March 1991 with support from the University Athletic Association. Bats took up permanent residence in the house in January 1995 and have raised nursery colonies in late spring each year. The bat barn was built in March 2010 and became permanently occupied in August 2011.
When fire destroyed UF’s Johnson Hall in 1987, a colony of bats occupying the attic of the historic building was left homeless and soon began roosting in the concrete bleachers of James G. Pressly Stadium at the track and Scott Linder Tennis Stadium on the north side of campus. The odor and stains from urine and guano and the bats’ close proximity to spectators were a nuisance, so the UAA decided to exclude the bats from those facilities and build a structure for them to live undisturbed and at a safe distance from humans. In September 1991, several thousand bats were captured from the stadiums, transported and released in the bat house. The following evening, the bats emerged and found other places to live, while the bat house sat vacant for more than three years, leaving UF officials and many citizens in doubt about the success of the relocation project.
But in 1995 the bats moved in permanently, and the colony continued to grow. In 2009, the internal structure of the house collapsed from the weight of the bats and additional roosting modules that were added to the original design. The internal structure of the house was rebuilt and the first bat barn added in 2010. The second bat barn was completed in February 2017 to replace the original house, which has deteriorated beyond repair.
In September of 2022, the bats were relocated from the oldest bat house to the other buildings ahead of a hurricane and the original house was demolished.