Bat House FAQ
Here is a compilation of common questions we are asked about our bat houses.
Where should I put my new bat house?
Every bat house we sell comes with complete information on the best place to position a bat house and why. Without going to the length of detail in the manual here are some good guidelines. Place your bat house a minimum of 10 to 12 feet high facing South to South East. Look for a location that gets early sun and continues to get sunlight through most of the day, remember bats like it between 85 and 100 degrees F. Avoid being too close to trees where owls or hawks may wait for a quick meal. The side of a house, barn or on a pole is always a good option. Trees are generally (though not always) less successful in attracting colonies. A few exceptions I’ve seen are isolated pine trees or large poplar trees with one side exposed to sunlight. With trees just remember, they provide a good climbing surface for predators and foliage can block sunlight.
How can I attract bats to my new house?
This is one of the most common questions I’m asked. Unfortunately there is no proven way to attract bats. For bats to be present they need food, water and housing. Flying insects are a good food source, water needs to be within about 1/4 of a mile. Small ponds, creeks, home garden ponds and even pools are all viable water sources. If water is not close by don’t give up hope. Some bat species are prone to travel much further for food and water than others. As for housing, a good bat house or suitable roosting spot in the attic of a barn or structure is all they need to call home.
How can I tell when bats are in the house?
The best and usually first indication is bat droppings on the ground. Small numbers of bats may inhabit the house off and on as the season progresses. These small numbers may not produce much guano so check the ground closely first thing in the morning for small black dots. Another good way is to watch it in the evening. This is still not a sure method since you may pick an evening when they leave early or stay in late or transient bats have left. Finally, it is OK during the day to shine a bright flashlight up into the bat house for about 30 seconds to look for bats. During the hotter time of the day they will generally be lower in the house and easier to see. However, don’t make this a common practice especially for a young start up colony, if the bats feel threatened or disturbed they could abandon the house. And while looking up… keep your mouth closed!
Can I attach my bat house to my home? (or tree, or metal building, or phone pole etc…)
Attaching your bat house to your home is OK. But you need to consider, when you hang your bat house on a structure don’t forget about the guano that will be generated by your new bat colony. You wouldn’t want to hang the house over doors or windows or over protruding brick or stone work.
Metal buildings are fine if properly attached to the metal so the fasteners don’t pull through. Also check the temperature of the house as metal will reflect and dissipate heat quicker than other materials. A larger house would probably be best as it will serve to moderate the temperature shifts more effectively.
NEVER hang a bat house on any active service pole of any kind. Poles abandoned in place by the power company may make a good mount but you should check with the authority that owns the pole to make sure it is OK. Unless they transfer ownership of the pole to you, they have the right to come remove it at any time.
Is it OK to move the house with bats in it?
No, never attempt to handle or move a house with an active colony in it. It is never a good idea to handle wildlife without the proper training or equipment. While bats do NOT aggressively attack people they can bite if they feel threatened. You could disrupt the colony so it moves or even abandons young pups. The proper time to handle a bat house is during the winter when the bats are not present. If a house falls or is damaged with bats present you should wait for them to leave or seek professional advice before attempting to handle it. Your local Department of Natural Resources should have a wildlife agent able to help.
Why are your houses so large?
Our smallest bat house is actually close to the smallest bat house design that BCI (Bat Conservation International www.batcon.org ) will certify. It exceeds the minimum dimensions required to produce what research suggests is the preferred minimum size by bats. We follow their guidelines and suggestions closely and work with BCI concerning any potential design changes or improvements to our houses. Smaller houses simply are not as effective in housing colonies.
I need to repaint my house, what kind of paint should I use?
If you need to repaint your house due to damage or just to try a different color be sure to use a high quality exterior grade latex paint. We suggest priming first with a high quality water based primer before your color coat. Remember, this should be done soon after the bats leave during the fall to give the paint ample time to cure and loose its odor. Also, be sure to inspect the house closely before handling it even in the winter. Some species of bats, like the Big Brown Bat, can roost and go into a torpor (sort of a hibernation) in buildings, bat houses and even farm equipment during the winter. They can come out to feed during moderate winter periods and return to sleep again when it cools. In January it is rare but we’ve seen temperatures in the 70’sin Georgia. During those times I have witnessed bats out and about as well as flying insects. Again, it is rare but those bats were hibernating somewhere near by and shouldn’t be disturbed.
Why do you think cut grooves are so much better?
We hear this question a lot. The primary reason bat house builders generally resort to a mesh or rely on “rough cedar” is due to the labor involved in mechanically grooving a roosting surface. While a mesh properly applied every time makes a suitable roosting surface it represents a compromise on the part of the builder. No matter how well applied is subject to possible separation. This can create a potential that bats could become entangled in the mesh if it came loose. As for the rough cedar theory, an unsurfaced cedar board varies in roughness and the final actual roostable area inside a rough cedar house is therefore variable. Any smooth areas and large knots represent an area that bats would find difficult to cling. We made a decision that we would not compromise but would instead use only mechanical grooves to create a consistent and reliable roosting surface. This decision required us to invest in CNC equipment to do the job. In doing so we have the ability to construct quality safe houses that are consistent and the same every time. This guarantees a high quality house for all customers and commercial or government customers can be assured as they buy houses over time the appearance and quality of the houses will remain constant.