The Best Places to View Bats in the United States and Canada
University Of Florida Gainesville Bat House
Location: On Museum Road across from Lake Alice on the UF campus in Gainesville, Florida.
University of Florida
Box 112200, Building 179
Gainesville, FL 32611
Open: Year-round, all the time.
Special programs: Presentation given once a year on the Saturday before Halloween. Call for more information.
Bat viewing: The university built this 18-by-18-foot bat house in 1991 as a replacement home for bats living in campus buildings. It is now gaining fame as the world's largest bat house. In late spring, summer, and early fall, visitors can watch the nightly emergence of between 40,000 and 70,000 Southeastern and Mexican free-tailed bats from a fenced observation area that has benches and an informational kiosk. There is a parking lot nearby on the lake side.
Species: Tadarida brasiliensis, Myotis austroriparius
Bandelier National Monument
Location: 46 miles west of Santa Fe, New Mexico
Mailing address: HCR 1, Box 1, Suite 15
Los Alamos, NM 87544
Phone: 505-672-3861, ext. 513 for bat information
Ext. 517 for general park information
505-672-0343 for 24-hour recording.
Open: Trails are open daylight hours year-round except Christmas and New Year's Day. Visitor Center open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., longer in summer.
Admission: Fee for private vehicle.
Camping: Fee is charged.
Gift Shop: Books.
Special programs: In summer, as staffing permits. Slide show; informal talks at bat cave about bats in general and specific bat species in park.
Bat viewing: There is a nightly emergence of about five minutes from late May to late August or early September. The cave area closes at dusk. Enquire at Visitor Center about flight time.
Species: Tadarida brasiliensis, Myotis yumanensis in maternity colony; at least 10 other species in the park.
Location: Fordham Rd. and Bronx River Pkwy.,
Bronx, New York
100 85th and Southern Blvd.
Bronx, NY 10460
World Wide Web: http://www.bronxzoo.com/
Open: Opens daily at 10 a.m. Closes 4:30 p.m. November through March. Closing times rest of the year:Monday through Friday 5 p.m., weekends and holidays 5:30 p.m.
Admission: A fee is charged. Discounts for children and senior citizens. November through March rates are lower. Wednesday: voluntary donation. Group rates by reservation only; call 718-220-5198.
Parking: A fee is charged.
Gift shop: Yes.
Special programs: Pre-Halloween program about bat behavior in mid-October. Call for more information.
Bat viewing: Rodrigues fruit bats roost and fly freely amid natural vegetation and other animals in the"Jungleworld" walk-through exhibit. Other bat species can be seen in the "World of Darkness" nocturnal exhibit house.
Species (all captive): Pteropus rodricensis, Pteropus giganteus, Artibeus jamaicensis, Carollia perspicillata, Phyllostomus discolor
Bat World Sanctuary And Educational Center
Location: Mineral Wells, Texas, 45 miles west of Ft. Worth and South of Wichita Falls, on Hwy. 180 and 281.
217 N. Oak Ave.
Mineral Wells, TX 76067
Open: Open for scheduled tours only, from September through June. Public tours on the second Saturday and the third Sunday of the month, beginning at 2 p.m. Advance reservations are required, preferably at least a week ahead. Closed July and August.
Admission: A fee is charged.
Gift shop: Small selection of gifts, books, T-shirts.
Bat viewing: Bat World is an indoor, natural habitat sanctuary for non-releasable bats, including those that have been orphaned, used in research, permanently injured, or confiscated from the illegal pet trade. More than 100 bats of a dozen or more species from around the world live here. Visitors can observe.
Squilax General Store And Caboose Hostel
Location: In Shuswap region, Canada, on the Trans-Canada Hwy., about 10 km east of Chase and 8 km west of Sorrento, midway between Vancouver and Banff.
Rural Route #2
Site 2-Comp 11
Chase, BC VOE 1MO
Open: Year-round; bats present only from late April to mid-September.
Admission: Free; a fee is charged for group presentations, arranged in advance.
Lodging: Visitors can stay at international youth hostel, made from three converted train cabooses, each with 6 bunks, kitchenette, and sitting area. Showers are separate. Rates: Fees for Hosteling International members or BCI members, nonmembers, and to camp. Private rooms available at a surcharge.
Gift shop: Cards, jewelry, gifts.
Special Programs: Can arrange for group presentations; can arrange for visitors to join local volunteers in a once-a-week Sunday visit to the Squilax bat house site to count the bats roosting in the houses. Call for more information.
Bat viewing: In late spring, summer, and early fall, a colony of about 600 little brown bats and Yuma myotis lives the attice and behind the sign of t he General Store, and visitors can watch them emerge in the evening. There are 11 species of bats in the area, many of which can be see roosting under local bridges. In nearby Squilax, 15 bat houses were erected on the site of an abandoned church that burned down in 1994. The church once housed a colony of more than 2,000 bats, and about half that number have taken up residence in the bat houses.
Species: Myotis yumanensis, Myotis lucifugus.
Other great bat watching locations:
Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Point Reyes National Seashore, California
There are many more sites at state parks, zoos, and private facilities.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication