Visiting the UF Bat Houses in Gainesville

Some may disagree that visiting a site where thousands of bats emerge from their homes every night and take to the skies is not exactly a “quaint” travel. But I love bats (like, in the sky and in their natural habitat, not in my house). And going to see the bat houses in Gainesville, Florida has long been on my bucket list.

Located on the campus of the University of Florida, the bats come out each night at dusk. That has always been somewhat difficult for me because they are about three hours north of me, and dusk, especially in the summer when they are most active, would put me home at almost midnight.

Here’s a view of the bats emerging. It can seem scary, but they didn’t fly at the spectators at all. They swoop around looking for mosquitos and other bugs to eat.

Well recently we finally had the opportunity, while on an anniversary getaway, to spend the night near the bat houses. I thought there would be a few people there, but when we pulled up there were hundreds! Apparently I’m not the only one who likes to see bats fly around at night.

Kids loved visiting the bat houses. Apparently it’s a big family attraction!

I first got interested in bats at a nature show at a county park years ago. Different booths were set up showcasing things like trees, rivers, etc. One girl had a “bat booth.” I waited patiently as she spoke with another person because I thought she may have a bat to show us. I wasn’t disappointed! She had a small bat that was injured and she was nursing back to health. We got to gently pet it. It was so cool!

Years later there were bats in the attic when we stayed at a lake cabin in Shohola, Pennsylvania too. I continued to be fascinated by them. There weren’t a lot of them, maybe twelve. But watching them at dusk while we sat around the firepit was such a treat.

Recently I even realized that we have a bat or two in our neighborhood. While walking the dog at night I noticed something flying around. I would have taken it for a bird except that it flew in such an erratic manner. From seeing bats in the past, I realized that they were indeed bats in my front yard!

It’s fun to see and identify them, but never ever touch a bat for any reason. They can carry diseases that can make you sick or even kill you. But having said that, for the most part, they’re harmless when watched from a distance.

To find bats, look around outside your home at dusk. Stand for a few minutes and look up. You may see something flying around that can easily be mistaken for a bird. Often times, it’s a bat. And Halloween may be just the time to do that!

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