Quite possibly, no creature is more misunderstood than the bat. An important part of our ecosystem, bats do a number of useful things for humans. According to BCI (Bat Conservation International), there are more than 1,300 species of bats, and they all help us in different ways. Insectivorous bats keep the bugs at bay and eat some of our most damaging agricultural pests. Bats that feed on nectar are crucial in spreading pollen for plant reproduction. And fruit eating bats disperse seeds of all kinds, helping regenerate dying forestlands. Despite all this, bats are all too often still thought of as pests!
With their natural habitats disappearing, it’s critical that we help out the bat population. A great way to do this is to build a bat house! We’ve got some step by step instructions on constructing this simple project, and you can find the project plans here.
Once you’ve built your bat house, it’s time to starting thinking about where to hang it. Here’s what BCI has to say about the best bat house practices.
STAY AWAY FROM TREES
Placing a bat house on a tree may seem like a good idea, but it’s actually one of the worst places for bats. Trees restrict the amount of space bats need to take flight, as they need to drop 15-20 feet before flying. Tree branches and vegetation just get in the way! Additionally, many bat predators like owls and hawks may be lurking amongst the foliage, making trees a dangerous choice for roosting.
MOUNT IT ON A POLE
Mounting a bat house on a pole can be a good choice, but only for multichamber bat houses. Single chamber houses usually do not work well on poles unless you mount two of them back to back. If you choose to mount your bat house on a pole, make sure it is a minimum of 10 feet off the ground. Though, 12-20 feet is better.
PLACE IT ON YOUR HOUSE
The eaves of your roof are a great place to put a bat house. They get enough space to drop, and are also insulated well with stable temperature. Make sure you place it where they will get 6-8 hours of direct sunlight, preferably facing East or South.
TEMPERATURE & COLOR
Bat houses need to have warm and stable interior temperatures. To help regulate temperature in your bat house, consider different color choices to help absorb or reflect sunlight. Choosing a color depends on geographical location, and BCI should have a color map you can use for reference.