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Bat Removal

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Eastern South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Eastern Nebraska

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Why Build a Bat House? And How?

Why Build a Bat House? And How?

Have you noticed some new tenants in your home or outbuildings? At Central Plains Bat Removal, we like to think of ourselves as bat realtors. When it’s time for them to find a new home, we are happy to show them the way.

If you have been wondering how to build a bat house, you’re in luck. Bat houses are not too hard, and we have some hints to help you along the way.

A house for birds and bats in the park.

Bats Should Move Out – But Not Too Far!

Sometimes we don’t want the bats to leave for good. In the Midwest, many farmers hope Big Brown bats will call their land home, too. Big Brown bats like to eat insects, like the cucumber beetle, which can destroy crops if it is left alone. 

Little Brown Myotis bats are also common in this part of the country, and they think mosquitos are delicious. It may be a good idea to build a place for bats in your backyard and give these exterminators a comfortable place to call home – their home, not yours.

Buy or Build a Bat House?

You may like to build things yourself to make sure it’s done right, and having that eye for detail is an asset when building a bat house. Sometimes doing it yourself is the best way to get what you want, and what the bats in your backyard need.

But if you would rather leave bat house building to an expert, just make sure you shop carefully. Some bat houses are marketed very well, but built very poorly. When considering ready-made bat houses:  

  • Make sure it will attract the bats you have in your area
  • Take a look at the ventilation and the stain/paint color. Is it appropriate for your temperatures?
  • Check for certification. Does it meet the standards for bat safety?

A house for birds and bats in the park.

Build a Bat House

Bats don’t need vaulted ceilings and open floor plans, but they still appreciate a custom home designed just for them. Keep these friends close by with a simple structure where they can feel safe and warm. 

What Will the Bats Do in a Bat House?

Bats will live in your bat house during the summer months. They will stay home during the day, and head out at night to hunt those insects you would like to keep at bay. If you are lucky, they will reproduce and turn your bat house into a nursery! 

Where Should the Bat House Go?

You should install your bat house 15-20 feet above the ground. It can be mounted:

  • On a pole
  • On a building
  • On a branch-less portion of a tree

The bat house should not be shaded most of the time, because bats like a warm place to be. Houses on trees tend to be the least successful. The best location to mount the house is on a structure under the eaves.

Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus)

What Does a Bat House Look like?

A successful bat house will resemble the habitat found between tree bark and a tree. Bat houses should be at least 14 inches wide and hang vertically on their mount, with a good roof on the top end to protect the structure.  Their depth will depend on how many roosting chambers they have. The roosting chambers will be on the inside, and they will be ¾ to 1 inch thick to keep the bat cozy while it roosts. 

A bat house with more than one chamber will have a better chance of attracting bats. Since most North American bats are colonizing bats, if the house can hold up to 300, your luck will increase. A single chamber house can hold about 50 bats. That may still work for your location, but consider building bigger if you can.

What Qualities Should a Bat House Have?

There are many bat house designs out there for you to choose from, including several from Bat Conservation International. Choose your design carefully, and check it just like you would a built bat house for the specifications all bat houses should have. 

Whether you build or buy a bat house, if it is missing one of the critical characteristics it will either never attract bats, or it will not be a safe place for them to live.

According to the certification standards developed by Bat Conservation International:

  • Materials for a bat house should be exterior plywood or boards, and should not be pressure-treated wood.
  • The builder should plan to finish the house with a natural stain or exterior latex paint to help it last longer. 
  • Caulking and filling unplanned holes will keep the house from getting too cool or ventilating in ways it shouldn’t.  
  • Roost chambers should be at least 20 inches tall.
  • The structure should be at least 16 inches wide.
  • The roost chambers should be ¾ to 1 inch deep front to back. They can be layered on top of each other.
  • There must be a landing area, a place for the bats to grab onto the structure before they climb inside. This can be a back that is longer than the front, or a portion of the front cut off. 
  • The structure should have an interior that the bats can grip and climb up. The standards allow for manual horizontal grooving or roughening, or the careful installation of plastic mesh against the interior of the chambers.
  • Fastening hardware is important. The builder should use screws for most of the assembly and should make sure they’re not protruding through the wood. That could injure the bats.
  • Each bat house should have at least one ventilation slot, a half-inch wide. There should definitely be one on the front of the house, as wide as the structure. There can also be vents on the sides, about 6 inches tall.

bat box in tree - wildlife conservation in nature reserve forest

Call the Movers

Now that you know how to build a bat house, you can have a home for bats near your home. If you have a colony of bats that needs a new home, a bat house is a good way to encourage them to stay close by after we have helped them leave their current roost. While we can’t guarantee they will commit to the new structure right away, Central Plains Bat Removal can certainly help them along.

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