Did you know that there are more than 40 species of bat living throughout the United States?
Bats are one of the most interesting animals, because they are the only mammals on Earth that can fly. While they may look similar to a rodent with wings, they provide a lot of benefits to the area in which they live like eco-friendly insect pest control!
Unfortunately, their habitats have been encroached upon and destroyed. That is where the bat box comes in. Bat boxes provide safe housing for bats to raise their pups and can help mitigate habitat loss by providing suitable places to roost.
The best way to attract bats to your bat house location is by choosing a spot that checks off all the boxes of a bat's basic needs. If you do this, your chances are good that a bat occupies the bat box and returns each year.
You'll need to be patient when waiting for bats to occupy the bat house, no matter the bat house placement that you choose. If no bats have occupied your bat house after three years, then it is time to consider a new location.
Although knowing where to place a bat box will help increase the chances that a bat takes up residence, it is important to know that bats are wild animals. There are no guarantees that a bat will occupy the house no matter the location. If you’ve lost some trees recently, like ashes from emerald ash borer, the bats may be perfectly happy using the spaces underneath the peeling plates of bark. Creating and preserving natural habitats, such as trees with naturally peeling bark (e.g. shagbark hickory) and snags (dead or dying trees with loose bark, cracks, and crevices) is very important. Adding bat boxes is a secondary action to take where natural habitat does not exist or cannot be provided due to safety issues.
Choosing the best place for a bat box takes some forethought to be successful. Here are some tips to help you find the best place for your bat house.
An ideal location for bat box placement is within 1,500 feet of a water source. Like all mammals, bats need water to thrive. Choosing a bat house placement that is within 1,500 feet of a water source is one of the best ways to guarantee that a bat will move in.
Some ideal bodies of water to place the bat house near are ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers. The closer to the body of water that you can place the bat house, the better. At the same time, don't place it too close to the shore.
An ideal location is about 25 to 50 feet from the shore of the body of water. This is a prime location for a large bat box, should you wish to house a colony of bats. Bats prefer to make maternal colonies close to bodies of water.
If you don't have a water source that close to your home, there is still hope. You'll just need to take a different approach. You'll want to invest in a couple of bat boxes for bachelor bats to take up residence in.
This approach won't give you a large maternal bat colony on your property but could lead to individual bats living on your property and providing ample pest control.
Another great approach you can take is adding an artificial water source to your property. Wildlife habitat ponds are a great option, as are birdbaths and fountains.
Existing vegetation is another important factor that you should consider when deciding on bat box placement. In order to attract bats to your bat house location, you should avoid dense tree lines and woods. Try to find a spot that is roughly 20-30 feet away from a tree line or thick forested cover.
Bats avoid roosting in shady trees with many tree branches. This is because tree branches make it easier for predators like owls and hawks to attack and eat bats, reduce the solar radiation that keeps the maternal colony warm, and obstruct flight paths into and out of the bat box.
If you have a tree line or woodlot on your property, you'll want to keep the bat box at least 20-30 feet beyond the tree line and as close to the water source as you can. If you have a few individual trees that are scattered on your property, those won’t be an issue.
Bats need ample heat in order to survive. This is a big part of why so many bats will sleep in confined areas. It is also why bats love bat houses.
One great way to ensure that you attract more bats is to make your bat house face the sun. The sun's heat will keep the bat house nice and warm for your winged neighbors.
The best direction for a single bat house to face is South. Your goal is to provide the house with 6 hours or more of direct sunlight each day, even in hot climates. When facing this direction the bat house will get the ideal amount of sunlight throughout the day. If you choose to mount two bat houses back-to-back, orient them Southeast and Northwest. A bat house oriented North will likely be too cool for use by bats.
The heat that the bat house gets will have the added benefit of attracting female bats that are looking to roost and rear young. It will help you grow the bat population on your property!
Placing bat houses on buildings or other wooden or concrete structures that help moderate temperature fluctuations is most preferred according to bat experts. Mount your bat house under the eaves on wood or stone buildings where it is still exposed to the sun, to protect it from rain and predators.
Guano will end up on the ground underneath, so avoid placing bat houses directly above windows, doors, decks, or walkways. Bat urine may stain some finishes. Two-inch or four-inch spacers between the bat house and the wall or a large backboard may reduce guano deposits on the wall. A potted plant or a shallow tray or plant saucer can be placed underneath a bat house to collect bat guano for use as fertilizer in flower beds or gardens. Do not use a bucket or deep container (unless 1⁄4-inch or smaller mesh covers the entire top of the container), as any baby bats that fall from the bat house could become trapped inside.
In moderate to hot climates with minimal variance between nighttime and daytime temperatures, mounting on a pole or post is a suitable alternative and offers the opportunity to install a predator guard/baffle to keep raccoons, snakes, weasels, domestic cats, and other predators from accessing the house.
Mounting bat houses on trees is not recommended, because of limited sun exposure from shading branches and the risk of predators like owls perching nearby. If mounting to a tree is your only option, select a sunny location as far from branches/potential perches as possible. Please note that bat houses mounted on trees are least successful and take approximately twice as long to attract occupants.
Now how high do you want your bat box placement to be? The best height for a bat house is anywhere from 10-20 feet off of the ground or above the tallest vegetation beneath the bat house. A clearance of 15-20 feet from the bottom of the bat house is best, and be sure to provide 10-12 feet of clearance at a minimum. This will provide for clear flight paths into and out of the bat house.
Bats prefer to be far away from other animals, including humans. They especially want to be far away from domestic cats, raccoons, owls, and other predators. Bats seem to prefer a house that is 20 feet off of the ground and well isolated.
While this doesn't have anything to do with the bat house location, it is an important factor when it comes to attracting bats. The color of the bat house plays a factor in how warm it gets and how much heat it retains.
Since bats love warm areas, choosing a dark color of paint for the bat house will make it more likely to attract bats and lead them to take up residence there. This works best in colder areas of the country. If you live in an area with a warmer climate, you should consider a lighter color of paint to prevent the bat house from getting too warm. This handy paint color guide helps you select the right shade of paint or stain based on the average daily high temperatures during the month of July.
Bat houses are a great way to help the bat population thrive as their natural habitats are destroyed and become more fragmented. It is also a great way to help with pest control on and around your property!
Choosing the right bat box placement is a crucial step towards encouraging bats to take up residence on your property. You should make sure that it gets adequate sunlight, is near water, and is high enough off the ground for the bats to be safe.So why wait? You're ready to make a difference in the world and help the bat population thrive in your area. Click here to take a look at the best bat houses on the market and find the right one for your property.