Bat Houses

Living with Bats

Bats are in serious decline nearly everywhere. Worldwide, there are almost a thousand different kinds of bats which comprise nearly 1/4 of all mammal species. Of the 43 species living in the U.S. and Canada, nearly 40 percent are endangered or are candidates for such status.  The biology and ecology of bats is not well understood. Their nocturnal behavior, inaccessible breeding and roosting sites and migratory behavior have made them difficult to study. As a result, we know little of bat ecology or management needs on public lands. Despite a lack of knowledge, we do know that bats often use trees, cliffs, caves, human dwellings, natural waters and water developments, bridges and mine shafts in a variety of habitats. There are clearly opportunities to begin specific management actions to protect or enhance this diverse and threatened group of mammals.

Putting up a bat house is one of the more rewarding ways to help wild life. By providing bats with a roosting habitat, you also benefit by having fewer yard and garden pest like mosquitoes and ants. It may seem like just a drop in the bucket but we can over come chemical pest control and create a cleaner heather environment. Bat houses may be put up at any time of the year. They will more than likely be occupied in the first three to four weeks after they have been installed. Installing a bat house and exposing it to the rain and sun will darken the color even more increasing the chances of attracting bats to you bat house just that much better.

Although most folks believe bats live in caves, which they do, more than likely they live in old houses or barns where it is warm. With an increase in individual chambers in these bat houses we have found that we could achieve a much better control of the temperature. By doing this we also increased the ability of the box to hold more bats in a more comfortable environment. They could be in your back yard catching all those insects like disease carrying Mosquitoes, that have a way ofspoiling your favorite BarBQ.

America’s Bats are an invaluable natural resource. Yet due to decades of unwarranted human fear and persecution, bats are in alarming decline. By putting up a bat house, you can help increase the population. Even the most abundant bats of North America are rapidly losing roosting habitat. Bat houses are the answer.

Putting up bat houses and making careful observations offer an excellent opportunity to learn more about bat roosting requirements. They can also make a great science project for the school.

Bat House Basics

Bat House Design.

You should consider design when selecting your bat house. According to research, larger bat houses (often called nursery houses) have higher occupancy rates than the smaller houses. All landing areas and partition surfaces should be rough. Vents are often best where average July temperatures exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Habitat

Your bat house should be placed within 1/4 mile of a natural water source such as a stream, river, or lake. Bats tend to fly along forest or water edges, and bat houses located here tend to be found more quickly than other locations.

Mounting

You may place your bat house on a tree, pole, or a building; however, boxes mounted on poles or buildings tend to have a higher occupancy than those mounted on trees. For mounting on buildings, wood or stone buildings are best, and your bat house should be mounted under the eaves with some sun exposure. You should mount your house 15-20 feet above the ground. It should not be in a place lit by bright lights.

Sun Exposure

You should place your bat house where it will receive at least six hours of sun if you live in a region where average July temperatures range from 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a region where average July temperature are less than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you should mount your bat house where it will receive at least 10 hours of sun.

Timing

You may mount your box at any time of the year, but those put up in the spring are often occupied more quickly. If you are evicting a colony of bats from a building, a box should be mounted several weeks prior to the eviction.