This New ‘BatBnB’ Is Here To Save Bats And Their Reputation

A new startup called BatBnB promises to reduce mosquito populations, provide habitat for bats, and help you do your part for your local ecosystem. But can it give "rats with wings" a better image?


May 24 2019, Updated 10:21 a.m. ET

Bats have gotten a bad rap for way too long. It wasn’t until the emergence of “white-nose syndrome,” a disease that appeared about a decade ago and began wiping out bat populations throughout the northeast and central United States, that anyone publicly showed their support for these “rats with wings.”

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With their numbers in decline, bats need all the help they can get. And that’s where BatBnB comes in. The startup’s founders are out to give bats a fresh PR push by marketing a fancy new bat house that would look great hanging high off an exterior barn wall, or the stateliest of homes.

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BatBnB is on a mission to make bats your favorite neighbors. 

BatBnB bills itself as the “natural solution for pest control.” The company plans to achieve this promise in three sweeping steps: by reducing mosquitoes and other buggy pests, offering living spaces to animal desperately in need of safe habitats, and encouraging people to show these super cool animals some serious love.

The concept comes from Christopher Rannefors and Harrison Broadhurst, a two-man team based out of Lexington, Kentucky, seeking to come up with solutions for people and animals to coexist symbiotically. Citing the Zika virus, our increasingly warm and wet summers throughout much of the United States, and the need to protect wildlife, Rannefors and Broadhurst set about designing bat houses that are at once beautiful and functional.

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To make sure they’re doing things right, the BatBnB guys have teamed up with conservation experts from groups like the Organization for Bat Conservation to ensure each BatBnB has adequate space and ventilation to house its intended 150 bats. 

Let’s have a chat about mosquitoes. 

You can’t really talk bats without talking mosquitoes. I don’t know about you, but I live in Northern New York where the mosquitoes are serious. Sometimes, they’re so bad you can’t even sit outside by a campfire. They multiply fast, take pleasure in torturing people, and have proven to be adept at survival: They’ve been around 210 million years. Don’t even try going outside at sunset without bug spray. They will absolutely eat you alive. 

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Female mosquitoes live for up to two months (males only last about a week), during which time each can lay around 500 eggs. That’s because every three or five days, a mature female mosquito lets go a batch of between 50 to 100 eggs in stagnant water. In order to lay all those eggs, a female mosquito only needs to mate once. Then, for each egg deposit she makes, she needs just one thing: your blood.

Uninterrupted, that means 100 mature female mosquitoes can produce 50,000 more mosquitoes in less than 60 days. You can see how this situation quickly gets totally out of control.

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Now, about those bats…

Depending on the kind of bat your dealing with (there are more than 1,200 species worldwide), he or she may have a few different favorite foods. Some chow on ripe fruit; others fill their bellies with frogs, scorpions, and other critters. But the ones we’re focused on are the heroes who dine on bugs flying around at night: like moths and mosquitoes.

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One brown bat can actually take out 1,000 mosquitoes per hour, making a significant dent in the amount of itchy bites you’ll end up with all over your body this summer. A 2009 study actually compared the mosquito population in places with and without bats. It was discovered that having bats correlated with 32 percent fewer mosquitoes.   

You can help bats out in a number of ways. 

To support BatBnB and get a gorgeous bat house of your own, check out the company’s IndieGoGo page. Of course, if the $200 price tag is out of your reach, you can still do your part: A basic bat house is fairly easy to make and can be done in an afternoon.  

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