How to Add a Bat House to Your Backyard

While bats have at times received a bad rap, they’re actually incredibly diverse and beneficial creatures.   If you’re thinking about placing a bat house in your backyard, you’ve come to the right place.    Let’s take a look at why you should add one to your property and then we’ll share some tips and tricks for making sure that, once you place your house, the bats successfully come to roost.

Why have a bat house?  There are many reasons why attracting bats to your property can be beneficial.  Placing an outdoor house can provide a family of bats with a safe and secure home for themselves and their babies.  Due to habitat loss, ideal roosting conditions are sometimes hard for these flying mammals to find.  Through providing a home with perfect conditions, you help restore bat populations while at the same time providing a protected place for them to rest their head.  If you reward them with a home, they will return the favor through their appetites.  A single bat is capable of eating between 2,000-6000 insects a night!  That’s an awful lot of mosquitoes that will no longer be bothering you when you’re outdoors in the backyard.  They also help the local farmers with their pest control in addition to all you neighborhood gardeners out there.  I’ll take that solution over a pile of pesticides any day of the week.

Where can I find one?  Once you’ve decided to install a house in your yard, you’ll need to determine whether you want to buy or make one.  If you decide to build one, check out the prominent bat conservation websites online for ideas.  Many of them provide detailed instructions for making your own.  Bat conservation International, The National Wildlife Federation and The US Fish and Wildlife websites all have step by step plans for successfully building your own house.  If you’d rather buy one that’s already made, you can check at the same web locations above or head over to Amazon and run a search for bat houses (that’s where we ended up purchasing ours).

Audubon Bat Shelter Model NABAT
Amazon Price: $35.99 $26.17 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 3, 2014)
This is the bat box that our family uses.

How do I successfully install it? Alright, you’re ready to start benefiting from having a few bats in the neighborhood and you’ve bought your house.  Now what do you need to do to ensure the bats choose your space for their next roost?  A couple of tips to remember include:

  • Make sure your bat house is installed at least 12 feet off the ground and even a bit higher is preferable.
  • Make sure the location you choose receives at least 8 hours of sun a day if you’re in a northern climate and at least 6 hours if you’re in a southern climate.  The ideal temperature of a bat house during the day should be between 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit.   If you live in a northern climate, you can also paint your house a darker color to help absorb more heat vs. a lighter color if you’re living in the south.  Do not paint the inside of the box, only the outside.
  • Try to get your house installed before the spring thaw for the highest chance of occupancy.  Most bats migrate to their roosting home in spring and early summer when they have their babies.  Having your home ready to go will give you a higher chance that the bats will find and use it.
  • For the best chance at success mount your house on the side of your home under the eaves or at the top of a pole, not on the side of a tree.

Adding a bat house to your back yard can not only be beneficial, but a fun learning experience for the whole family.  Teaching your children to respect and appreciate the creatures that live among us will help them to become better stewards of the land and in turn help preserve populations for many generations to come.   So what are you waiting for?  Head out and grab yourself a box today!