Solar Powered Heaters May Save Bats


Photo via robstephaustralia via Flickr CC

And they thought wind turbines were a pain. More than 80% of of the deaths in several bat populations in the northeastern United States and Canada have been caused by a fungus - indirectly. Scientists haven't figured out a way to stop it from spreading, but they have figured out a likely reason bats are dying from the fungus. And that's lead them to devise heater boxes run on solar panels and car batteries could save the lives of bats. Scientists hypothesize that bat deaths from the fungus are caused by them being roused during hibernation. When they wake up, they fly to warm spots to heat up again before settling back down into hibernation mode. That causes them to use up calories they can't afford to lose, and they end up starving to death.

To help out, Justin Boyles of Indiana State University and his research team have created heater boxes - basically insulated bird houses that have heaters running off solar powered car batteries. The idea is that the bats can use this to warm up and won't need to burn energy flying to find a warm place.

They're going to test out their idea in a small bat population in Canada, and see if providing some solar-powered heat will help the little critters make it through the winter.

Via National Geographic
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