It is common knowledge that Habitat for Humanity works toward building houses for those in need. While this goal typically extends to those in human societies, Wilson’s Habitat for Humanity Chapter decided to reinterpret its meaning and sponsor their fall build day for the campus’s nocturnal neighbors: bats.
While some may question the relevance of building bat houses, Habitat’s executive board had a good reason to follow through on the project. In the days before the build, Habitat hosted an informational table to raise awareness of two factors surrounding the build’s importance. The foremost factor involved the growing concern over White Nose Syndrome, a condition infecting and killing millions of bats across the United States since 2007, including three species native to Pennsylvania. Little is known about this malady aside from its cause, a cold-loving fungus named Geomyces destructans, which eats away at a bat’s fat reserves over hibernation, thus causing them to wake up prematurely. Evidence currently shows the fungus only attacks bats hibernating in caves, where it will kill ninety percent of the population in the hibernacula. Scientists are researching the reason for this fact, and encourage people living in affected areas to monitor bat populations around their communities.
Keeping bats, and people, safe
In addition to providing alternative hibernacula, bat houses are also important as safe alternates to bats roosting in community buildings and private residences.
With this in mind, Wilson’s bat house build was scheduled for September 18th. Over a period of four hours, the group of twelve, comprised of staff and students, volunteered their time to help with the building process. Many were shocked that the house dimensions were so large, and voiced that they thought them to be about the size of bird houses. The homes were constructed from scratch, and included building the walls and roof of the houses. Once finished, the sides of the houses were caulked to provide insulation and waterproofing for its inhabitants. Finally, the surface of the wood was stained black to retain heat and sustain temperatures on the inside surface.
By the end of the day, two houses were completed, and are now awaiting their placement in November. Habitat executives are in contact with professors and staff who have volunteered to assist with finding proper places for the homes on campus. Habitat wishes to thank all who participated in and showed support for this program, and invite all interested to partake in hanging the houses. More information will be available when the date and location for this activity is decided.