Using Bat Guano as fertilizer

Dorothy_Freeman's picture

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Hi,
I have some reasonable quantity of bat guano available that I thought I would bring home to my wife for her gardens (some guys bring flowers...). I have heard that it is great fertilizer. But I have no idea how much to use, so we're looking for some advice. Thanks in advance.

Curt

Jeana_'s picture

(post #13634, reply #1 of 18)

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I'd have no problem using commercially available bat guano, but I wouldn't touch fresh stuff with a stick...literally.

Shade_Queen's picture

(post #13634, reply #2 of 18)

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Eeeeuuuuu!!!!

Karen_W's picture

(post #13634, reply #3 of 18)

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Depending on where you live, I would be a little careful. In some parts of the country, an endemic fungus called histoplasmosis can be excreted in bat droppings.

Jeana_'s picture

(post #13634, reply #4 of 18)

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That's a bad lung disease you don't want. And some bats carry airborne rabies.

Karen_W's picture

(post #13634, reply #5 of 18)

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Here is a reference on bats and rabies. http://www.cdc.gov/epo/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00056176.htm They are the most common vector for human cases of rabies in this country, although the contacts are most commonly from bites. It is thought that the bites of a bat may be unrecognized; this is of course a presumption but seems to fit the epidemiology best. There are two cases of rabies that may well have been from airborne virus but these occurred in caves teeming with bats, other airborne cases have been in labs studying the virus. The virus dies quickly when it dries out and has not been transmitted as far as anyone knows from fresh bat guano.

Whenever someone talks about a bat house in the garden I get a little nervous, even though the relative risk from having one is probably pretty low. Did you hear about all the cattle in Mexico that had to be killed because of rabies after vampire bat bites?

Bill_Flather's picture

(post #13634, reply #6 of 18)

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I thing that you are being a bit alarmist; I am not convinced that bats pose a significant risk to humans as vectors of rabies. My understanding has been that most rabid bats succumb to the disease before they ever get to the aggesive stage where they are liable to attack humans. (I don't panic when one gets in our house. I close it in a room, give it a few minutes to settle down and land, usually on a drape, and then use a towel to pick it up and release it outdoors. They have small teeth and can't bite through a towel.)

Moist guano won't generate dust, and I imagine that unless you are getting it as it drops from the bats, the virus, if present, will die before it has a chance to infect you. With reasonable causion, it should be no more dangerous that horse, cow, chicken or pigeon poop. Don't breath it and wear gloves and long sleaves. Don't smear in cuts.

Karen_W's picture

(post #13634, reply #7 of 18)

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I did not intend to be alarmist. My points were that exposure to bat guano (fresh or dried) does not expose someone to rabies, and that it is extraordinarily unlikely that the rabies virus will be transmited through aerosol (airborne). I do not panic if a bat gets in the house and it does not bother me to see them fly around at night, but I am cautious of any bat that is where it does not belong, ie inside the house rather than out in the night air. Most reported cases of rabies in wild animals in this country are in racoons, and I honestly don't know the prevalence of rabies in the bat population, though I expect it is small. (The story from Mexico was in the news recently and I thought it was rather unusual.)

Jeana_'s picture

(post #13634, reply #8 of 18)

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The first and foremost concern from bats and their droppings should be histoplasmosis, a disease that does similar damage as tuberculosis. And once the lung tissue has been scarred, the damage will never be undone. For a little raw fertilizer, I don't think the benefit is worth the risk.

Keri's picture

(post #13634, reply #9 of 18)

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We had a huge lesson on rabbit pooh and with all the manure I have at my house seems to be the simplest to use. I think the discussion was in my 'worm compost' message. Great information!!! It could be very easy to worry about alot of stuff with the things we use gardening. I wish EVERYONE would use more natural things for bugs and fertilizer. Wear a breathing mask or spray it down before scooping? Sounds like you are around these bats anyway.

Karen_W's picture

(post #13634, reply #10 of 18)

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In the grand scheme of things we are all in a lot more danger from driving on the highway.

Keri's picture

(post #13634, reply #11 of 18)

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Yeah cars and concrete aren't helping the grand scheme either. Oh well it is the way it is and atleast we have a love and knowledge of nature and living things. I feel very strongly about chemicals and polution so I need to shut-up. All we can do is what we can do. GO POOH POOH !!!! HAHA

Jeana_'s picture

(post #13634, reply #12 of 18)

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Actually, you can drive hundreds of thousands of miles and never have an accident. Handling or being downwind of raw bat guano just once is all it takes to become infected with histoplasmosis which is
b very common
in bats. When I worked at a wildlife rehabilitation center, everyone was told when they started that if they tried to feed or handle the bat or clean it's cage, we'd be fired on the spot. So great is the threat of histoplasmosis and it's communicability. Very few animals harbor infective agents that can live in our systems, so don't run in fear from manure, just certain ones should be avoided.
i Processed
guano is safe, but it's really a bad idea to use it in it's raw form.

Kimm's picture

(post #13634, reply #13 of 18)

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My understanding about the method one can contract histoplasmosis, which I have, is by airborne spores most often when the manure, often poultry, is cleaned up and this is most often after its dried. Simple personal protection, a face dust mask, when handling potentially contaminated manure such as bat guano is all the protection necessary. Histoplasmosis is epidemic among poultry growers although probably not diagnosed often.

Keri's picture

(post #13634, reply #14 of 18)

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I just cleaned out the chicken house with it being very dusty and dry. I had never heard of this and if anyone would get it I'll probably be the one. What is the symtoms? Rabbits are looking better and better.

Jeana_'s picture

(post #13634, reply #15 of 18)

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Anyone who works around poultry should make their doctor aware of this. Kimm is right in that it gets airborne as the manure is disturbed when it's dry. And a dust mask will help alot, but anyone really working with poultry, especially when cleaning, should have a respirator to bring the risks down to near zero. I used to have pigeons in high school and it's amazing I never had a problem. Btw, that's one of the main arguments for cities wanting to get rid of pigeons. Now, I have exotic birds, my house is filled with dust and I just have to be aware of the fact that any one of them could be carrying it. Infected birds/bats will probably show no symptoms. Since none of us have had a problem in all the years we've had these birds means that mine are probably free of it.

Kimm, I'm sorry to hear about you having it, but since it was caught, I'm sure it's more of an incovenience than a problem. Since you have first hand knowledge, is this something that once had and treated, do you receive lifetime immunity or can you get it again?

Kimm's picture

(post #13634, reply #16 of 18)

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To the best of my knowledge the only for sure way to know if you have it is through a blood test. Symptoms are just general fatigue and shortness of breath and these apparently don't always appear until years after exposure. I've not seen anyone with acute symptoms, just chronic (but then I've not seen everyone either) and it does affect diferent people differently. Its a lot like having asthma and hay fever, except you never have an acute attack like with asthma.

Jeana_'s picture

(post #13634, reply #17 of 18)

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My BF (Susan)'s hubby is an infectious disease specialist. I'll ask him to tell me more about this.

Karen_W's picture

(post #13634, reply #18 of 18)

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For more information on histoplasmosis, an endemic fungus in the central and eastern US (Ohio and Mississippi river valleys), including Nashville where Jeana and others who post to this site live, and other specific geographic locations: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/tc97146.html and http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/histoplasmosis_g.htm