5 things to know about bat popp

1. It’s real name is guano.

Guano (via Spanish from Quechua: wanu) is the accumulated excrement of seabirds, seals and bats. You’ll most often find the word guano used for manure to fertilize gardens. But while bat guano plays a valuable role in the environment you will want to keep it outside your home as it can be dangerous to your health, more on that later.

a large pile of bat guano in a old fireplace

2. Coffee and bats.

Have you heard of Kopi Luwak coffee? It’s a common myth that the most expensive coffee in the world comes from bat poop but it’s actually made from coffee beans that are partially digested and then pooped out by the civet, a catlike creature found in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. What about bat spit coffee? Yes, it is indeed a thing! The bats feed on the coffee cherries but, unlike the famous Kopi Luwak civet cats, the bats are too small to swallow the coffee cherries. The idea is that a reaction between their digestive fluids and the outside air produces a uniquely smooth flavor. It’s a natural coffee processing method!

3. It’s not used in makeup products.

The whole bat poop in mascara thing is really just a massive urban legend. Guanine was added to various cosmetics to give them a shimmery, iridescent look and it’s very abundant in bat poop. In fact, “guanine” originates from the word, “guano.” However, the cosmetic industry does NOT harvest it from bat guano. The FDA requires that guanine only be derived from fish scales when used in beauty products. Not keen on fish scales in your mascara? Don’t worry too much, most cosmetic companies aren’t willing to pay the high price for guanine these days and there are several cheaper alternatives like synthetic pearl, mica, aluminum, and bronze particles.

4. It makes some of the best fertilizer in the world. 

Yes, as mentioned, it makes the best fertilizer! It promotes green, rapid growth for lawns, supports flowering, promotes root growth and helps plants grow strong stems. It also helps hold together loose soils and makes dense soils lighter. Microbes in bat poop have been found to have bioremediation capabilities. This means bat guano can aid in cleansing toxic soils.

bat guano used as fertilizer

5. It can be toxic to humans under certain conditions.

Bat guano, if disturbed, can release infectious spores resulting in Histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by a fungus called Histoplasma. Symptoms include fever, cough, and fatigue. Many people who get histoplasmosis will get better on their own without medication, but in some people, such as those who have weakened immune systems, the infection can become severe. That’s why clean-up of bat droppings requires proper care and the use of a HEPA filter mask.

Do you have a bat problem or need help with guano clean-up?

Get Bats Out Owner and President Michael Koski

Your Local Bat Removal Expert,

Michael Koski


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