There are bats all around Auburn’s campus. They’re underneath Jordan-Hare Stadium, surrounding Dudley Hall and nestled around the Red Barn. The bats have been around for a long time and have spread around campus from Samford Hall.
There’s a wooden house on the corner of Lem Morrison and South Donahue and 20 years ago Forestry and Wildlife physically moved a population of bats from Samford Hall to the new structure.
Jim Armstrong, extension specialist professor of forestry and wildlife, said the bats were moved when the University prepared to do work on Samford Hall.
“[The bat house] was put up 25 years ago,” Armstrong said. “There was work being done on Samford Bell Tower and [needed] bats to be moved.”
The bat house was designed similar to one in the University of Florida, which was successful in deterring bats from entering and inhabiting construction sites and buildings, according to Armstrong.
Armstrong said Auburn’s bat house was successful until there was a recent drop in population several years ago.
“[The bat house] never been a permanent resident for the bats,” Armstrong said. “The area [has become] very grown up, making it hard to get to and the bat house [turned] into a state of disrepair.”
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Forestry and Wildlife has made strides to repair the bat house and to shape the landscape around the area to make it more attractive for bats to stay, Armstrong said.
Bats have been located in areas such as Samford Hall, Biggin Hall and other older buildings on campus.
Armstrong said when buildings settle, cracks form and allow bats to create passages into attics.
“Bats can fit into very small crevices,” Armstrong said. “Places like the stadium are very good bat habitats.”
Jordan-Hare stadium has small spaces and attractive lighting for bats, Armstrong said.
“The lights attract a tremendous amount of insects,” Armstrong said. “There’s not a surprise that bats are there.”
Eric Kleypas, director for turf and landscape services, said he’s seen bats in the stadium, Samford Hall and downtown churches.
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” Kleypas said. “We see them from time to time when we turn on the lights.”
Armstrong said some bats carry rabies.
“Any wild animal has the potential to carry disease,” Armstrong said. “Some are a threat to humans, other are not. For bats, the major concern is rabies.”
There has been one known case of a bat biting in Alabama in the last 20 years. Armstrong said its is possible to be bitten by a bat without knowing because of their small teeth.
“You’re not in any danger. o bat will swoop in and bite you,” Armstrong said. “What happens is that a bat that might be sick and on the ground in the day, that bat is sick, so if someone picks that bat up they can be bitten and not even know it.”
The majority of bats do not have rabies, Armstrong said, and there are ways to see them if you’re interested.
“The best place is over in some of the fields and around the Red Barn near the water,” Armstrong said. “A lot of insects fly out over the pond and that is a good place to see [bats eat].”
As for the future of Auburn and its construction projects, bats will not be a problem. Armstrong said the presence of healthy bats means the University’s campus is a healthy environment.
“[The bats] are just part of the world,” Armstrong said. “They are not causing problems.”
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