Bat Houses - Build a Bat House for Your Back Yard
Why Attract Bats to Your Yard?
It is becoming more common to find folks that are interested in putting a bat house in their back yard. Aren't people supposed to be afraid of bats? Why would they be interested in trying to attract bats by putting near their homes?
Of course much of the interest in bats is the fact that most bats native to the US are insectivorious. While it's unlikely that bats alone will control a large population of mosquitoes or other insects, they can be an effective part of an overall pest control solution, and do it without the environmental damage that pesticides or other chemical solutions can introduce.
In fact, some bats species can eat more than 1000 insects in an hour, and will consume more than their body weight each night.
While there are the famous vampire bats that will suck blood from a host animal, there are only three species of those in the world, and they are found in Latin America. So in general, bats are not a threat to humans, especially in the US.
Bat houses are a great conservation project, a good way to teach children about nature, and a great idea for Scout or a science project.
Books On Building Your Own Bat Houses
Making Your Own Bat House
If you are really interested in having a bat house and are handy with wood projects, you can easily make your own bat house. Some common design parameters for bat houses:
1) Generally they need to be a couple of feet in height, and keep the internal chambers at least one foot in width, but larger is better. You can include up to four chambers for roosting, but one can be adequate. Make sure you have rough cut wood so the bats can easily roost. Grooving surfaces horizontally will improve the ability to roost as well.
2) Venting is important, space them six inches apart. You want to keep the internal temperatures below 100 degrees.
You can find some good books on building bat houses. The most well known is the Bat House Builder’s Handbook.
Bat Houses on Amazon
Why Attract Bats?
Where To Mount A Bat House
Whether you build or buy a bat house, you want to mount it where it will best attract bats to your house, as even a successful bat house may not attract bats for one to two years.
It's often best to put a house on a building or a pole. Using a tree can often invite predators to the home, and metal buildings often create too much heat, so both these are to be avoided.
Temperature control: It's best to keep the internal temperatures of the house in the 80 to 100 degree range. If the external temperatures in your area will exceed 100 degrees in the summer time, it's best to put the bat house under an overhang or in a shady area to help moderate the temperatures. Don't ignore the heat, as this is often the reason that bats won't occupy a house.
Pole Mounting: It's common to mount 2 houses on a pole back to back. Be sure to mount them at least twelve feet above the ground.
Pests: One common pest that you may have to deal with is wasps. In the wintertime you may need to clear out the wasp nests in a bat house. In an occupied house, the wasps are generally not as much of a problem.
Austin, Texas Congress Avenue Bridge Bats
This is such a phenomenal event each evening that it is considered a tourist attraction in Austin! From March through April each year thousands of people gather near and around the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin to watch the millions of bats emerge and head out into the night to seek food and help nature's cause. It is amazing as they just keep coming out from under the bridge into the dusky sky creating waves of black motion moving through the air.
Seriously, if you are visiting Austin in the spring, you must experience this. It's a bucket list type of item.
Bat Conservation and Austin Bats
- Welcome to Bat Conservation International
Information of all sorts on bats and bat conservation.
- Congress Avenue Bridge Bats in Austin Texas - When and Where to See The Congress Avenue Bridge Bats
March heralds the return of the Congress Avenue bats in Austin. From March through April thousands of mostly female, pregnant Mexican free-tailed bats migrate North to give birth. Watching bat flights is a popular dusk activity all the way through th