Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is the harvesting of commercial bat guano sustainable?
A. Yes. The biggest threats to bats are habitat loss and roosting site disturbances. Both problems can be overcome by monetizing the harvest of bat guano. If people living in areas where bats roost have a financial incentive to protect the roosting sites, they will. Roosting sites should have fences built around them and guards to keep out unwanted visitors. Harvesting of guano is done at night when bats have left the caves to feed.
Bat populations grow when roosting sites are protected. We can measure the population growth from increases in guano collection from each cave. Bringing income to villagers from bat guano harvesting is the only way to prevent them from otherwise using the caves as garbage dumps.
Q: Are other fauna in cave roosting sites negatively affected?
A: No. Some insects may be removed when harvesting, but they rapidly reproduce in the increasing amounts of guano dropped from roosting bats. Of far greater importance is the protection of bats as a food source for larger animals such as snakes, lizards, and birds of prey.
Q: Do bats spread disease?
A: No. Like all mammals bats can carry rabies, so it is always a good idea to leave wild animals alone.
Q: Should bat guano ever look rocky or fossilized?
No. Bat guano does not fossilize. If left on cave floors it will be eaten by insects and reduced to dust with a high organic matter content. Commercially harvested bat guano is relatively fresh, fluffy from insect wings. Innumerable bits of semi-digested insects can be seen with a small magnifying glass.
Q: What about the carbon footprint from transporting bat guano from distant locations?
A: Commercial bat guano is transported to the U.S. in ocean freight containers typically holding about 44,000 pounds. The cost per pound to transport a pound of guano from Indonesia to California is about $0.05/lb. Moving cargo by sea has the smallest carbon footprint of any method of transportation. Freight costs between Los Angeles and San Francisco are higher than $0.05/lb and use trucks with a much higher carbon footprint than sea freight.
Q: Why is most commercially available bat guano a product of Indonesia?
A: Indonesia is a tropical country that lies on the equator, with a lot of insects for bats to feed on year round. Because Indonesia lies on the equator, the bats neither migrate nor hibernate, as their food source is abundantly available all year.
Q: What kinds of bats is your bat guano harvested from?
All of our bat guano is harvested from insect eating (insectivorous) bats, from colonies roosting in caves that host millions of bats. Commercial harvesting is not economically feasible from colonies with small populations under a million bats.
Insect eating bats (insectivorous) have a high protein intake from the insects they eat, with a resulting NPK average of 7-3-1. The diet of fruit bats is low in nitrogen and phosphates, and the average NPK is 3-1-6. Raw fruit bat guano when it can be found is stuck to rocks, and the smell is unbearable.
Q: Are fruit eating bats a source of commercially harvestable guano?
No. All commercially available bat guano is a product from insectivorous bat colonies. We do not use fruit (frugivorous) bat guano because fruit bats are more solitary than insect eating bats, and most fruit bat species roost in trees, rock cracks, buildings, bridges, etc. We have yet to find any fruit bat colonies in Indonesia large enough to harvest from.
Q: What is NPK?
NPK is an abbreviation for Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Kalium (Latin for potassium). Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are three of seventeen elements required by all living cells in nature, and are listed on packages because nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium are needed by plants in more than trace amounts. The NPK numbers on a package of commercially sold fertilizer are the percentage by weight of each element of the fertilizing material. For example, an NPK of bat guano claimed to be 7-3-1 means that the percentage of nitrogen in the bat guano by weight is a minimum of 7%. The minimum amount of P205 (an available phosphate) must be 3% of the fertilizer by weight.
For example, one hundred pounds of bat guano would yield a minimum of seven pounds of nitrogen. Depending on the insects eaten, bat guano can vary from 5% to 10% nitrogen (N), with an average of 7%. The second number represents “available P2O5 phosphate” (P) and bat guano is always 3 – 4%. Potassium (K) in bat guano is always 1%.