Bats come in a number of species, and they are a great natural method of pest control. They are protected by most states in America, and this means that they are not allowed to be kept as pets unless at wildlife sanctuaries, zoos, and research facilities. Because bats are wild creatures, they thrive best when left alone. However, you can get some bats to live near your house while not interfering with their normal lives by installing a bat house for them.
Where Do Bats Live?
Bats usually shelter in dark places such as caves, crevices, and attics. This is because they hibernate during the day and only go out at night. Most species live in colonies of more than a million bats, but some prefer a solitary life and will be found roosting alone.
Since bats are blind, they rely on sound to survive. They determine the location and distance of an insect or object through a process known as echolocation. This helps them to know where to avoid, their speed and where to get their flying meals. It is therefore advisable that the bat house has an echo-locator slot to help them with this.
During winter, some bat species hibernate while others migrate to warmer places in order to survive. You will also find a species that go into regulated hypothermia which lasts between a few hours to a few months (also known as torpor).
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Bat House
Bats are small animals, and they, therefore, do not require room-sized shelters. They do however need shelters that are spacious enough to hold a number of them comfortably. This is because bats prefer to live in colonies.
Bat houses in the market have different prices depending on the company that builds them, the materials used in construction, and the size of these houses. You can go for the one that you can afford, be it large or small as long as the house meets the required standards.
This refers to the stain applied to the interior and exterior of the bat house. Wood treatment depends on the temperature of the place you live in. You should go for houses with darker colors if your area receives less sun and vice versa.
Ideal bat houses are the ones that will not allow other birds to nest inside them. Bats also have a lot of predators, and the houses should, therefore, be able to protect them from these predators. This means that they should have solid construction.
The bat house should also be sturdy in that they should be able to withstand harsh climates and the roofs should be galvanized metal to prevent water from getting in.
You can install a bat house at any time of the year, but it is best to do it before evicting bats from their previous habitat. This should be done a few weeks before the eviction so that the bats get the chance to explore their new possible habitat. Bat houses can also be mounted before their first summer when bats return.
Mounting a Bat House
You should install your new bat house at a location where bats can easily move to after being evicted from their current habitat. The house should be mounted on a building or a pole where they will get enough exposure to sunlight. The bat house should be installed at least 12 feet from the ground. You should avoid placing the bat house near tree branches, wires, or other places that predators can easily use to access the house. You should also install the bat house near a stream or a pond since bats also need to drink water.
Maintaining a Bat House
A bat house needs to be maintained regularly if you want the bats to keep returning. This includes cleaning out wasps nest, sealing areas of leakages and repainting when necessary. Maintenance should be done during the winter when the bats and wasps have departed the house for warmer places.
How to Attract Bats
Bats usually find new roosts by themselves by using echolocation, and it is therefore quite difficult to lure them into bat houses. They are excellent at detecting caves and crevices to roost in. Relocating bats to new places will most likely not succeed because bats have strong homing instincts and they will try to find their way back to their former habitats.
A good house that will attract bats is one that is designed and built to accommodate the bats’ needs. The house should have an open bottom to prevent bat droppings from accumulating inside it and also prevent birds from nesting there. This also means that the bat house should be placed away from windows, doors, porches, and other places that people frequent.
Top 10 Best Bat Houses
1. Looker Products Triple Chamber Bat House
Best Multi Chamber
This is the best multi-chamber bat house, and it comes ready to mount with mounting holes at the top. It is made with cedar and exterior grade plywood for sturdiness and durability. The house has a high rate of being successful at attracting and accommodating bats, and it can hold up to 300 bats. It is well ventilated to ensure the house always has clean air and the landing platform inside the house is made of nylon mesh to allow the bats to have a firm grip and maneuver easily around the house.
- Roomy to hold hundreds of bats
- Lined with mesh inside for grip
- Comes ready to mount with mounting holes
- The house does not come with mounting instructions
2. OBC Endorsed Triple Chamber Bat House
This is the best large bat house that will attract bats as well. The house is very spacious and can accommodate up to 300 bats. It is made with high-quality materials, and the joints are glued using non-toxic glue so as not to harm the bats. The joining glue is also waterproof to ensure that the inside is always dry. The house is well ventilated to ensure the temperature stays right and they get enough air, and it has a polyethylene mesh fitted in the interior landing platforms to provide a firm grip.
- OBC endorsed
- Good quality
- Ethically sourced materials from a waste product
- It is heavy which makes it difficult to mount
3. Premium Bat House
This bat house is created in the USA, making it ideal for most climates in different states in the US. It is made from sturdy materials to ensure it lasts a long time and it is stained with a dark, appealing color to attract bats as well as withstand harsh climatic conditions. The house has grooved interiors to provide a landing platform and a roosting area for the bats. The bat house is pre-drilled and ready to install, and it is excellent at retaining heat which makes it perfect for the bats who love being warm.
- Grooved interiors for clinging and roosting
- Comes ready to install
- It is smaller than expected
4. Audubon Bat Shelter
This bat house is also made in the USA, and it has been designed to hold a number of bat species including the Mexican free-tailed, big brown, eastern pipistrelle, cave, evening, little brown, and more. It can hold up to 20 bats and is suitable for starting a bat colony or expanding an already existing one. It is well constructed to withstand years of harsh weather, and the grooved interiors provide a firm clinging and roosting area. It comes ready to mount with zinc-plated deck screws and pre-drilled holes.
- Solid construction
- Comes with pre-drilled holes
- Grooved interior for easy gripping and roosting
- The bat house is small and cannot hold more than 20 bats
5. Evergreen Single Chamber BAT HOUSE
This is the best cheap bat house which can hold up to 12 bats. It is sturdily built with treated wood to withstand years of harsh weather. The wood is also waterproof to ensure that the interior of the house is always dry. The interior is grooved to provide easy gripping when roosting. It comes with a metal mounting hook to make work easier for you during installation. It is fairly priced which means that anyone can buy it!
- Fairly priced
- Sturdily built
- Comes ready to mount
- The bat house is small and can only hold up to 12 bats
6. Kenley Bat House
This house has been reported to have high chances of being occupied by bats. It is designed to ensure bats roost comfortably inside it. The house is made from high-quality cedar wood to prevent it from rotting and also to last through many years of harsh climates. It has two chambers with grooved interiors for roosting and a rough landing platform for easy landing. The house can accommodate more than 100 bats, and it comes pre-assembled and with a strong hook for hanging to make installation easy for you.
- Made from high-quality cedar
- Easy to install
- Rough platform for easy landing
- It comes with only one hanger hook which makes the house sway in the wind
7. Belfry HaBATat Premium Cedar Bat House
This is the best single chamber bat house to hold a small bat colony. It is made from high-quality wood for weather resistance and durability. The bat shelter can hold up to 25 bats, and it would be ideal for getting rid of bats from your attic or expanding your bat colony. The interior is made of grooved cedar for easy gripping during landing and roosting. It comes with screws and pre-drilled holes so you can mount it straightaway at various locations.
- Weather resistant
- Comes pre-drilled for easy installation
- Rough, grooved interior for easy gripping
- Single chamber thus can only hold a small bat colony
8. Bat House - Large Cedar
This 3-chamber bat house has been handcrafted to give it an attractive finish. It is made from the Western Red Cedar to make the house durable even in harsh weather and to prevent it from rotting. The three chambers are fitted with nylon mesh to provide a firm grip during landing and roosting. The house can accommodate more than 50 bats. It comes with pre-drilled holes, so you can mount the house as soon as you receive it.
- It has an attractive finish
- Weather resistant
- Resistant to rot
- Comes ready to install
- The bat house is smaller than it appears in the picture
9. Coveside Mini Wooden Bat Box House Shelter
This is the best small bat house to accommodate a small colony of bats. It is made from rough, unfinished wood to give it a natural feel and provide a surface to cling to during landing and roosting. It has a solid construction to make it last many years even in harsh weather. The house has an echo-locator slot to help the bats to find the house more easily. It comes with a hinged loop at the back so you can easily hang it right away.
- Resistant to weather
- Has an echo-locator slot
- Made from rough wood to cling to during landing and roosting
- It may take longer for bats to move in
10. Dual Chamber Wooden Bat House
This bat shelter is great for all types of bats. It is built sturdily with a handcrafted fir wood to last many years. The house is also resistant to harsh weather, so you don’t have to worry about it rotting or coming apart through the seasons. It is spacious and can accommodate up to 350 bats. The house is grooved in each chamber for the bats to cling to during landing and roosting. It includes simple instructions on how to stain the house to attract the bats. The house comes pre-assembled making it easy to install.
- Sturdy and durable
- Comes pre-assembled
- You need to stain it yourself before installation
With one or more of these bat houses you can be assured that the notorious mosquitoes and other small insects in your backyard will be dealt with. You can get a large or a small bat house depending on how big the colony is. You can also go for a more natural looking house to blend with your backyard. It is important to note that bats may not necessarily move in immediately as some may even take up to a year.
Sources and further readings:
- YouTube,Bat Conservation International