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University of Florida Bat House
Ranked #4 of 67 things to do in Gainesville
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: The University of Florida Bat Barn and Bat House are the world's largest occupied bat houses, with an estimated population of more than 350,000. The structures are located on the north side of Museum Road between Village Drive and Radio Road across from Lake Alice on the UF campus. Parking is available in a lot just west of the bat houses near Radio Road. A sidewalk leads from the parking lot to the observation area. A UF parking decal is required Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Parking is free after 4:30 p.m. weekdays, and on weekends and state holidays. The bats normally emerge during a 15- to 20-minute period after sunset, before total darkness on calm, warm evenings when temperatures are above 65 F. Bats may swoop near those observing the emergence to eat insects attracted to the carbon dioxide in human breath, however they will not attack or harm people when left alone. High winds, heavy rain or cold temperatures will keep the bats in the house for the evening. On warm winter evenings, the bats may come out for a drink of water at the lake and exercise; however they can eat only when bugs are flying.
Reviewed August 22, 2013

In my opinion, you really can't get better than The Bat House! That may seem like a bit of a silly thing to say, but for me, it's true. I thought I knew Gainesville well, however, upon searching for something to do for a few hours while driving through, I discovered info on the Bat House and simply HAD to check it out. I was so, SO happy I did! (I ended up staying four hours past when I had originally planned on leaving just so I could experience it!)

My husband, six year old son, and I arrived a bit early for a summer's evening.. around 6:45PM. Being that we are from another state, we didn't know what to expect, and had been told that quite a few people show up to witness the bats' awakening. On the evening we went, (8/13/13) the crowd comprised of around 50-60 people by the time the bats were finally heading out for the evening.

Once the sun sets (we DID check the local sunset time, which I advise you to do) the bats begin their day. (Er, night?) At first, there's a few enterprising fellows who flutter about and it's all very exciting... UNTIL THEY ALL BEGIN THEIR DEPARTURE! THAT is fascinating! The steady steam of these mammals is thrilling, and I was in awe. My family stayed for about half an hour... AND.THE.BATS.WERE.STILL.COMING.

So why is there nothing better for me than an activity such as this? Well, it is free, and that's always a plus, especially for a family on vacation. What's more is that this is an experience you don't come upon often (unless you live close), where nature/wildlife is literally on display without being commissioned or exploited, and is a learning experience.

My advice to you is:

--Go in the summer, when the days are long, and even after dark you can get a good view of the bats.

--Wear bug spray! As Lake Alice is literally across the street, mosquitos and other pests are everywhere! (Part of the draw of the bats!)

--Bring an umbrella. For poop.

--BE ADVISED: The smell of the bats is pretty horrible. Think: cat pee with a dose of something extra musky. It's gross. If you want to avoid that and be a super nerd, or are maybe just pregnant and have an extra sensitive sense of smell, check out wind directions and situate yourself upwind.

--ENJOY! :)

3  Thank ladybaconfoot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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264 - 268 of 340 reviews

Reviewed August 10, 2013

Not much of a sight when you walk by in the day (just some info on bats) At dusk look out as thousands of bats come out to dine on Gus for miles around! This is a very cool thing to see but be ready to get pooped on if you are in the wrong spot. Some bring umbrellas, when you smell bat guano you will understand why.

Thank 220michaelc220
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 9, 2013

We were just driving by and saw a lot of people sitting on the fence of just waiting in the sidewalk. We know the bats are there but never stopped before. This time we did. Wow! Just before nightfall, just when it was going to become dark, the bats start coming out. First you see one, two, three, and then you see lots of them. They look just like little birds. Since its getting so dark its hard to see them. The best way is just to look up by a tree and since they fly towards the trees then you see hundreds of them! Really a neat experience. A must! Why not?! Great for children.

1  Thank EVELYN T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 6, 2013

Certainly not something you see every day. Be patient and wait for the mass exodus of bats that occurs at some mysterious time after sunset. When you see the crowd gathering, you know the time is close.

Thank Tenr2th
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 5, 2013 via mobile

It was around 8:30pm when the bats started coming out this August 5 evening. Across the street there's a pond and we saw an two small alligators and tortoises. What a great night with nature and with the kids.

Thank Fontalvo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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