Behold a bat house the size of a human home

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To combat the spread of malarial mosquitoes in Texas in the early 1900s, bacteriologist and fledermaus appreciator Dr. Charles Campbell of San Antonio built this massive bat house (which was one of several). This roost was on stilts so that the bats' nitrogen-rich guano could be collected as it plopped to the ground.

After experimenting unsuccessfully with bat houses in 1907, Campbell finally corralled a colony of bats into a house outside of San Antonio, Texas. His methods to guide the bats into this first house were fairly comedic. As Bats Conservation International explains:

Intent on filling his new bat tower with an armada of malaria-eradicating bats, Campbell turned his attention to a hunting lodge about 500 yards away. Bats took possession of the lodge during the summer when duck season was off and hunters didn't use it. Although previous experiments had failed to induce bats to leave their roosts permanently and take up residence in his first bat tower, Campbell was ready to try something else. He hypothesized that since bats located their food through a highly developed sense of hearing, certain types of sounds might prove disagreeable enough to cause them to move and not return. Noting that bats frequented churches and belfries with no apparent aversion to organs or bells, he further surmised that brass band music might provide the right measure of disagreeableness to sensitive bat ears. Since the home he had provided "in which all the conveniences any little bat heart could possibly desire" was only a few hundred yards away, he felt confident that the evicted bats would gratefully move in. With the help of an enthusiastic friend, Campbell began auditioning hundreds of records, settling on one they were certain would do the job.

Beginning at four in the morning, the bats of the hunting lodge were serenaded with the "Cascade of Roses" waltz as played by the Mexico City Police Band. Cornets, clarinets, piccolos, trombones, drums and cymbals created a cacophony of sound that greeted the bats on their 5:00 a.m. return. Campbell reported that the astonished bats circled the building again and again before giving up and disappearing into the dawn. The concert was resumed the next morning, but the bats, likely knowing what was good for them, never put in an appearance. Campbell repeated the musical production number at a nearby abandoned ranch house occupied by bats. This time he drove the bats out with "the first fortissimo" an hour and a half before their usual emergence time.


You can read more about Dr. Campbell's bat houses here and see further photos of these curious roosts at this link.

[Bat Conservation International and Shorpy via Neatorama]