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Cannon School students build bat houses

By Maddie Reiss
Cannon School student

CONCORD — Did you know that without bats, Starbucks might not exist? Bats protect coffee, along with 500 other species of plants and are critical to our environment and everyday life. But 6 million bats are dying because of White Nose Syndrome and habitat loss. After studying bats and their decline, students at Cannon School have decided to help — by building bat habitats.

One of the main reasons for the decrease in bat population is loss of habitat. With the cutting down of forests and trees, bats have nowhere to go and they die. The students’ solution? Building bat houses that actually work. The houses have plenty of room and rough edges so the bats can easily claw on.

White Nose Syndrome is a disease that spreads when bats are close together. If one bat in the colony has white nose syndrome, then 90 to 100 percent of bats will die. It killed over 6 million bats in Northeast and Canada. White Nose Syndrome is partly the reason there is an excessive bat death rate in North America.

Bats do a ton of positive things for the environment that people overlook. Bats protect beets, citrus, coffee, rice, tomatoes, pecans, peppers, cotton, corn and strawberries. Bats propagate cacao, figs and black pepper, and bats pollinate agave and wild bananas.

Why do bats matter? Bats save U.S. farmers $23 billion annually in pesticides and reduce crop damage. Also, bats pollinate several species of plants. Without bats, insects would be everywhere, overpopulating the earth.

Deforestation affects bats, as well, because trees are a natural habitat for bats. With trees being cut down each year, bats are losing their natural habitat. They are forced to live in normal bat houses. These houses are crammed and uncomfortable. Bats usually leave them, but if they don’t, they are so crammed in the bat house that white nose syndrome spreads and bats die quickly.

So what is the difference between Cannon School’s bat houses and regular bat houses? Normal bat houses are crammed, so the bats tend to leave. Also, normal bat houses cause diseases like white nose syndrome to spread to the whole colony. Cannon School’s bat house is different. It has horizontal slats that allow the bats to line up and have plenty of space so diseases don’t spread as easily. Approximately 35 to 50 bats can fit in one of the students’ bat houses.

Bats are very important, and students need your help to save them. They are selling bat houses for $25 to $35, which can be purchased on the website batyaks.wordpress.com or by emailing Maddie Reiss at mreiss@cannonschool.org.

Part of the money earned goes to a foundation that can eliminate white nose syndrome.

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