DIY Home + Garden

Published on June 13th, 2011 | by Julie Finn


How-to: Build a Bat House in Your Backyard

bat house ready to be mountedBats 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:

building a bat houseTo 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.

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

8 Responses to How-to: Build a Bat House in Your Backyard

  1. Danielle says:

    I just want to thank you for this post! I LOVE bats. It’s great to see so many resources out there for creating bat houses.

    The National Wildlife Federation has one below. Have you found the best place to put your bat house yet?

    • Pumpkinbear says:

      We have an old pole out back that used to support a basketball hoop before we lived here. I’m trying that out, although it’s possibly too near the road. Right about now is when hopefully bats will be moving into our house to overwinter, so if we don’t see any sign of them by next spring, we’ll try a different location.

  2. rhondawinter says:

    I am totally inspired to build one of these. A few years ago, when I was visiting Austin Texas, I saw literally millions of bats coming out to eat insects at sunset from beneath one of their bridges. Bats are fantastic.

  3. Thank you for the Carlsbad link (and thank you, Danielle to the NWF one you posted).

    We’ve got bats in our back yard eating up our mosquitoes and have thought about building a house or two for a while now.

  4. Oportunitychecker says:

    I`t looks lovely 😀
    just one thing… bats  dont like smells of chemicals and colors 😀 its better to leave it blank…  and It should be dark brown or black. in the colder regions ;D

    • Pumpkinbear says:

      Good to know! We plan to build a second bat house over the winter, and we’ll leave that one unpainted (except for the bat stencil–I don’t think we can live without that!).

  5. Shayna says:

    Just curious. How’s the bat house going? I have read that it can sometimes take time to attract the bats. Have your houses been a success or are you still waiting?

    And is there anything that you would do differently?

    • Julie Finn says:

      We ARE still waiting, and it’s kind of a bummer! We’ve got a smallish yard, and I was worried from the beginning that there was no place that would be isolated enough from light and noise for the bats to be happy, but I REALLY wanted to try it, anyway, so we did our best with the placement.

      We also have a pretty boring lawn, that this year I’m going to try to convert to a front yard garden, and I’m curious to see if this increases the amount of wildlife that we get overall, which will then perhaps invite some bats?

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