Published on June 13th, 2011 | by Julie Finn8
How-to: Build a Bat House in Your Backyard
Bats are great to have around in your backyard. They eat the bugs that pester you, and let’s face it–they need some good man-made homes, now that much of their natural habitat has been destroyed or over-run.
You can buy a bat house to mount in your yard, but why would you want to buy one when you could make it? In one afternoon and one trip to the hardware store, even if you had a little helper like I did, you can make a mansion, beautifully decorated and all, for our favorite little flying mammals.
Read on for links to the best (and easiest!) tutorials and tips for making your bat house suitable for occupation:
To build our bat house, my daughter and I used the bat house plans from Carlsbad Caverns National Park. These plans are excellent because every step is illustrated, the measurements are simple, and the supplies easy to obtain.
These bat house plans call for rough cedar. Cedar tends to be one of the pricier woods, and if you’re being careful about such things you’ll want to make sure that your cedar was ethically harvested, but the rough cedar allows the bats to grip the inside of the house without you having to mount some artificial material, such as vinyl window screening, inside for them.
If you’re not very adept at woodworking, you’ll be happy to know that a bat house is extremely forgiving. Even with a six-year-old’s wonky measurements and even wonkier hand-sawing, the bat house still came together just fine–since there’s no complete floor to the bat house (otherwise the bats wouldn’t be able to fly in), the bottom edges of the cedar planks can be as uneven as your kid needs them to be.
Honestly, it’s the mounting of the bat house that’s the most difficult part of this project, not the building of it. Bat Conservation International has the most comprehensive set of criteria for successful bat houses–they’re worth a read before you even get started with your project. Before I read these tips, I was all set to mount our bat house on a maple tree near a street light. Now it’s safely mounted at the top of an old basketball pole in a quiet part of our backyard.
It’s not the prime season when bats typically move into their bat houses, but you can, of course, mount your bat house at any time of year. Bats do sometimes need to move in the off-season, and if one does happen to need a new house before next spring, then our brand-new bat house in our backyard is just waiting to welcome it in.