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Old 01 April 2014, 10:45 PM
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snopes snopes is offline
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Icon18 Homeowners required to house bats

Comment: I remember hearing that in the early days of European settlement
in New England, that homeowners were required to allow bats to live in
their attics so that guano could be collected as part of the manufacture
of gunpowders. It would be interesting to know if this was true and the
exact wording of the laws.
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Old 01 April 2014, 11:05 PM
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GenYus234 GenYus234 is offline
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That commenter has nothing to worry about as his belfry certainly satisfies the requirement.
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Old 02 April 2014, 01:25 AM
Alchemy Alchemy is offline
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Almost every saltpeter production process, from ancient history to right before WWI, has required the chemical extraction of nitrates from manure and urine.

Guano is valuable only because (certain?) bats eat almost nothing but nitrogen-rich protein, so their manure is highly concentrated in nitrates and ammonia. Portions of Asia have known this from antiquity, but it was unknown in the West until publicized by Alexander von Humboldt in the early 19th Century. Guano began to overtake other manure sources around the 1840s, as production of gunpowder became more scientific and industrialized.

Prior to that there would be no reason for anyone in the New World to consider guano useful enough to go out of their way to collect.
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Old 02 April 2014, 03:39 AM
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That's why I love this place. I just can't get answers like this anywhere else.
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Old 02 April 2014, 06:27 AM
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geminilee geminilee is offline
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I would imagine separate buildings similar to dovecotes or chicken coops would make collection easier than attics. More room to work a shovel, for one thing.

ETA:Not that I believe a law required bat housing by the general populace.
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Old 02 April 2014, 08:24 AM
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Twankydillo Twankydillo is offline
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In the UK homeowners are required to house bats, at least it's against the law to disturb their nest if you find one on your property. This isn't to collect the guano but because bats are a protected species. Don't know if this is true of New England
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Old 03 April 2014, 07:05 AM
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ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
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Assuming that there are any bats left in New England after white-nose syndrome.
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Old 03 April 2014, 02:47 PM
Singing in the Drizzle Singing in the Drizzle is offline
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Even without the guano collecting bats are good for insect control and this may be a reason to keep them around. I get different number on the quantity of insects a bat will per night, probably do to location and species, but it is at least a few thousand.
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