Bats and Pools Survey

You are being invited to participate in a research study designed to gain a better understanding of how bats use swimming pools across North America. This study is being conducted by Zachary Nickerson and Dr. Joy O’Keefe, from the Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation in the Department of Biology at Indiana State University. This study is part of an undergraduate research project, and the first phase was funded by the ISU Center for Student Research and Creativity. This survey is being distributed across the United States and Canada, and the targeted respondents are pool owners or those who use or maintain pools on a regular basis.

Most North American bats are small, active at night, and difficult to observe, so we have very little information on how bats interact with their environment. Anecdotal reports suggest bats use swimming pools for drinking, perhaps especially in areas where natural water sources are scarce. If you own, use, or manage a pool on a regular basis, you could provide valuable information regarding bats using swimming pools as water sources. This survey is completely voluntary and is only meant to be taken once per person. Whether or not you observe bats around your pool, your responses are still valuable to us. Please feel free to tell others about this survey as well. The survey will be available from May 15th through September 15th, 2013.

The Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation is asking for your help in understanding how bats use swimming pools across North America. To participate in this survey, please click on the link below. Please take a minute to read the informed consent statement, which explains how the results will be gathered and kept. Thank you for your time and participation.

Informed Consent

If you have any questions about the survey, or would like to assist in distributing the survey to people you know, please click here for contact information.

5 thoughts on “Bats and Pools Survey

  1. Pingback: One month in! | Bats and Pools Survey

  2. I was directed to this survey because I’m a member of Bat Conservation International. I’d love to help you with your research by taking this survey, but my experiences with bats drinking pool water occurred at several different pools. I saw dozens of bats drink from the university’s reflecting pool in front of the library in summer 2011, and bats would swoop and drink (they were definitely drinking water, not catching bugs above the surface) a foot or less away from me when my then-boyfriend and I swam at the pool at his condo/apartment complex. They appeared to be Evening Bats. My mother has a smaller pool in downtown Columbia, SC, but I’ve rarely seen bats there. Should I answer for any of those pool experiences, or just opt out?

    • Thank you for showing interest in my survey! If you regularly visited the pools which you mentioned, your responses are definitely helpful. There is a question in the survey asking how often you were around the pool, so answering that will help me get an idea of how regular your observations were. Go ahead and fill out the survey if you are still interested. If you reach the end and feel your observations do not fit well with the survey, you can simply exit out. If the observations were made within the last couple of years, your responses are valuable to my research. If you have more than one pool you have regularly visited in the last couple years, feel free to fill out a survey for each pool. Whether or not you observe bats, all responses are valued. Also, if you have friends or family with pools, please encourage them to fill the survey out as well. Thanks again for your time and participation in my research.

  3. I have 3 ponds on my farm but not a swimming pool. We see bats drink from them all the time. This may not be related to a swimming pool, but it does relate to a drinking source for bats.

  4. I have a pool in Eagle Pass, Tx. It’s 16×36 and located perpendicular to a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande across from Piedras Negras, Coah., Mexico. [28.51N, -100.53W] The initial drop off the bluff is about 60-70′, the the land angles down about 100′ more to the actual river about 250 yds to the west. The pool is set back from the lip of the bluff about 20 feet. When I first moved here there were NO trees or shrubs between the pool and the much larger volume of open air above the river vega (bottoms). I’ve been observing the Mexican Free Tail bats for the last 5 years (since I bought the house.) Heating of the vega, exposed to the western sun, causes considerable lift and updraft for all soaring and flying things, while the bluff itself creates a wind shadow near its walls, that provide a haven for MANY aerial insects, so it’s an ideal situation for insect eaters. I think the primary diet of the Mexican freetail is the pecan borer moth, but this fringe of the Chihuahua desert is very “insecty” due to some winters without a freeze. Each evening just after sunset the bats show up, traveling and snacking just about 20′ above the level of the bluff and out above the horse paddock below the cliff. They swing out, turn and head in toward the pool just as a pilot would line up for a runway approach. They come in on a very shallow glide path, but at full speed. Mouths fully open and skimming water into their lowered jaw. [A bat expert told me that to open their mouth and feed or skim water, that they must cease echolocation, which explains why they have passed so close to my face and even once or twice skimmed my hair!] They skim JUST above the surface, then dip and clip the very surface of the water, throwing a bow-wave up over their membranes and batheing their entire bodies! Their speed allows them to pull up before they reach the end of the pool or the wall of the house. The pool temps run between 86 and 90dF that time of day. Summer day ambient temps run between 96 and 106. Unfortunately, over the last 5 years, I’ve allowed a privacy screen of mimosa/acacia species to grow up and extend about 13′ above the bluff, so I’ve only counted 2 bats this summer out above the vega and coming in to drink, but there could be more coming in after dark. Only once have I had a bat have trouble on their pull-up flight. She was found swimming very early in the year inside the pool out-take, alive, but in dire straits. I removed her, dried her and hung her upside down in a nearby plant, but I think she got hypothermia and had inhaled some water and didn’t make it. I am a citizen scientist, participating in the studies of the monarch butterfly migration. I also report on ladybugs, dragonflies, and birdwatch regularly. I’m in and out of the pool 5-6 times a day and am doing a documentation of the sunset from this location, photographing as near to every night as I possibly can. BUT bat pictures are non-existant. They’re too fast! But I did get a picture of the poor dear who drowned. During summer I’m almost always in the pool at sunset.

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