Bat Houses

Bats play an important role in nature by keeping populations of insects in balance. They consume large numbers of mosquitoes, grasshoppers, corn borers, potato beetles, and many other insects. A small bat can catch up to 600 flying mosquitoes in one hour! Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding bats, and many species are being threatened with extinction as they and their homes are destroyed. Your Bat House will provide a safe shelter for these valuable, threatened creatures.

Bat Houses are designed for roosting bats, with a landing pad and interior boards located closely parallel to one another. Bats hook their claws onto the rough-textured wood and climb up between the boards where they will stay warm and hidden until dusk when they emerge to feed on insects.

Choosing a site to mount the bat house
The bat house has been treated with a nontoxic stain; therefore, no preparation of the wood is needed before mounting.

Bats prefer to roost high off the ground and near a permanent source of water, such as a pond, swamp, or stream (although bats do forage for insects several miles away from water).

For best results, the house should be hung 15 to 20 feet above the ground on a pole, or the side of a house or outbuilding, in an area protected from strong winds. Access to the bat house should be clear of obstructions; avoid placing the house near utility poles and wires. The bat house can be placed on a tree as long as it receives 4 to 10 hours of direct sunlight each day. Place your house facing east or southeast so, after a cool night, the house will receive the first rays of morning sun.

Temperature is an important factor in choosing a site for your bat house. During spring, summer and fall when bats are not hibernating, they prefer warm temperatures in the house (big brown and pallid bats, 80 to 90 degrees F, smaller mouse-eared bats 90 to 110 degrees F).

Ventilation is critical in regions where average high temperatures in July reach 85 degrees F or higher. The Victorian Bat House includes ventilation openings under the eaves to reduce the possibility of overheating on extra hot days.

Raccoons have been known to disturb bat roosts, so if raccoons are numerous in your area, you may wish to place a two-foot-long metal band around the post or tree to keep them away from the bat house.

Mounting the bat house
For mounting the bat house on a wooden structure, we recommend using a #12 wood screw (2-3/4" x 7/32") Insert the screw through the hole in the mounting board, located above the roof of the bat house. You may provide additional support beneath the bat house providing bats are not obstructed from being able to climb on the lower landing pad.

Have bats arrived yet? What are the signs?
Bats will not appear right away. It may be weeks, a month, or even a year before bats will find your house. Look for bat droppings (guano) on the ground below the house or wait until dusk to see if bats emerge from the house.

If there is no activity after a year, you may wish to position the house more to the east, or find a new location. If there is still no sign of activity, it may be that the bats have plenty of roosts in your area, or the house is too far away from a water source. Some houses have remained vacant for as long as three years.

We still have a lot to learn about the exact housing preferences of bats. Any information you can share with Bat Conservation International Inc. can be sent to the following address:

Bat Conservation International Inc.
PO Box 162603
Austin, TX 78716
(512) 327-9721
www.batcon.org

Will bats use the house year-round?
Bats will live in a bat house all year only in warm, southern or coastal areas. In colder regions, bats migrate south or find hibernating sites for winter.

Are bats dangerous?
No. Bats are not vicious, filthy, or likely to attack people or animals. Even sick bats rarely bite, except in self-defense. But as with all wild animals, use caution and common sense if you see a bat that appears injured or sick.

Bat Conservation International has this to say about sick and rabid bats: "Like all mammals, bats can contract rabies, though very few (less than half of one percent) do, and even when rabid, bats rarely become aggressive. Like other animals, they quickly die, and outbreaks in their colonies are extremely rare. The odds of being harmed, even by a rabid individual, are remote if you simply do not attempt to handle bats. Any bat that is easily caught should be assumed to be sick and left alone."

If you have any questions, contact us at: info@gardeners.com

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