This year the Dutch organization for mammal study and protection (VZZ) placed twelve ‘bunkers’ in the natural area Slot Haamstede in the province Zeeland to provide winter shelters for bats. Five bunkers which were placed there earlier are now filled with dozens of bats. The twelve new bat shelters also have some new residents overwintering there, and the VZZ expects the number of bats in all of the bunkers to increase in coming years. In total there are 45 bat shelters at Slot Haamstede, and 26 are hosting bats this winter.
During an official census of the bats, seventy to ninety bats were counted in each of the five earlier shelters. Species included the whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus), the brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus), and a few Natterer’s bats (Myotis nattereri), which are rarely seen in the Netherlands.
During hibernation, bats neither eat nor drink. Therefore any winter shelter should be quite humid to sustain them during their sleep. The shelters in Slot Haamstede are locked for this reason.
If you want to attract bats to your own property, you can place a bat shelter in your yard or garden. Dutch readers can get tips on building a bat shelter from Vleermuis.net, the network for bat information in the Netherlands. U.S. readers can purchase pre-made Audubon bat boxes from BestNest.com.