Last time we spoke about how to remove the bats from your house and attic. Now that the bats have been repelled from your house, hundreds of insects have appeared at your place and you are nostalgic about the winged mammals. Do not be sad! It is possible to retain the bats near your house, and a bat box or a bat house will be helpful. It is something similar to a nesting box adapted specifically for bats. You can make it yourself by hand, but some good ready-to-use bat boxes can also be found in stores.
We have picked the best ready-to-use bat houses for you. We have also studied the ways to lure the bats in such a new house, and what is more important we’ve asked the scientists which houses are preferred by the bats and where is the right place to locate them.
What a Perfect Bat House Should Be Like?
Bats are picky about accommodation. In order to lure them, in a bat box, it should be perfect in respect of several aspects.
- The size. The bigger it is, the better. Since the bats never settle individually and prefer to live in colonies, as many animals as possible should fit in the house. Provide multiple dwellings for larger colonies.
- The material. Use no plastic or iron, as the bats love wood (but not all types). The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources scientists recommend using cedar, for instance, as it is naturally resistant to changeable weather conditions: “The best wood to use to build your bat house is naturally weather resistant wood like cedar, rough-sawed black locust, white oak or old barn wood”. They also advice forgetting about pine tree and plywood.
- The shape. This is where some variation is acceptable as the house can be wedge-shaped, cylindrical or cubic. Other than the exit hole (the location of which will depend on the shape of the box), there may be very small ventilation holes as the bats do not like drafts. All seams and joints on the outside should be tightly sealed.
- The interior. Bats will not be happy with smooth and slippery walls inside the house as they are difficult to climb. The rough surface of the wood, a nylon net, small protrusions or indentations are all the things which will help the flying creatures settle comfortably inside.
- The color of the house exterior. You cannot process the interior of the house with anything, but treatment of the exterior is a must. And that’s when the scientists advise focusing on the temperature in your area. If it is under 85˚ F, paint the house in black and dark brown, if it is within the range of 85˚ - 95˚ F, choose dark colors, if it is between 95˚ -100˚F, then use medium or light colors, if the temperature is 100˚ F or higher, paint it white. These colors are not chosen randomly, as a dark house in a cool and shaded area will absorb and store the sun's heat and light, and a light color will repel sunlight, and it won’t be that hot in this house!
BUT: The Alaska Department of Fish and Game warn us to: ”Use only water based stains/paints, not oil based”, as the latter can be toxic for bats.
Now you know what the dream house of many bats should look like. However, this isn’t enough, as apart from the house itself, its location is crucial in this issue. These are not plain words, as the bat won’t live even in a luxury suite should it not be located properly.
Where and How Should You Place a Bat House?
The most popular place for a bat house is a house wall. It is considered to be the best option, but not the exclusive one. You can also hang the bat house on a tree or on any other stable support. The main idea is that a box should be at least 10-15 feet above the ground and 3 feet away from various obstacles: it is necessary for comfortable entrance and exit of the animals. The most prudent homeowners use the built-in bat boxes. In this case the houses are built into the wall or the facade of the house during construction. These designs are the most reliable ones and keep an optimal temperature best.
The temperature of the environment is one of the key factors to be considered when choosing a bat box. Place the house on the sunny side, as during the breeding season and when the baby bats grow, the walls of the box should be sunlit for at least 7-8 hours daily. It is best to face them south-eastward or south-westward. Moreover, the place shouldn’t be too windy, that’s why it is inadvisable to hang the bat box over a broken window, a place of intense human activity and near AC.
The bats are also sensitive to loud sounds, noise and bright lights, so think beforehand whether such factors will be there. It is a bad idea to hang the bat house near a busy road, for example, as bright light flash there often and the noise level is quite high.
Other animals can also disturb calm bat life. Hang the house so that your pets, as well as wild predators and insects such as wasps or bees, will not be able to get it. Bats like peace and quietness: if there is a beehive nearby, they won’t settle in their new place of dwelling.
Top-3 Best Bat Houses
Buying a bat shelter or a bat house might as well be the most pleasant pest control activity. You buy a $30 house, comfortable for your new night-flying neighbors which would in their turn save you from annoying insects. The bat boxes are moderately priced from $30 and they can fit at least 20 bats inside. The most expensive models cost ~$100, but they are most spacious and can fit up to 600 bats. You will hardly need such a huge hostel, that’s why we’ve picked the most advantageous bat houses containing up to 100 bats.
Audubon Bat Shelter Model NABAT
This is a #1 Best Seller in the Bat Supplies category on Amazon.com rated 4.1 stars out of 5. People who don’t want to surround themselves with an overly large colony of bats like it, despite the fact that Audubon is rather small: its dimensions are merely 12 x 4.2 x 16 inches. Such a house can fit a small family of bats who would live the more, the merrier. The price of ~$30.99 is also favourable as it is cheaper than all of its competitors mentioned in our review.
The manufacturer took care of the details: as the bat box is supplied complete with galvanized screws, and the house has all the necessary holes drilled in. Therefore Audubon can easily be fixed on the wall without any special skill. The inside is rougher than the outside surface, which is a plus for settling the bats (Inside the Audobon there is only one slot). We’ve only been able to find positive reviews regarding the assembly. Someone even compared the product with expensive furniture.
Price: ~$30.99 Check the current price
Looker Products Triple Chamber Bat House, Approved by the Organization for Bat Conservation
This is another popular on Amazon.com bat box with the excellent 4.5 stars out of 5 rating. Its price is twice as high as that of our review’s leader. It costs a fortune of $66.06! It is made in the USA of cedar and plywood and is already prepared for installation. The runway is made of nylon net on which the small bats’ feet can grip. The manufacturers boast of “proper ventilation” which would be the key to the comfortable living of the homeowners. The dimensions of the bat box (which is one of the most essential parameters) are satisfactory; they are 14 x 5 x 24 inches.
What is important, the bat house is supplied fully assembled. All the homeowners have to do is protect the Looker Bat House from moisture and paint it darker or lighter depending on your region (for heat absorption or reflection). Some adjust the bat box for fixing it on the tree: you might need additional hooks for that.
In the comment sections the customers praise the quality assembly of the product and ask other consumers to be patient. Some of the owners only had the bats settle in the box after 40 days, others had them settled after two months. However, there have been those who only managed to lure the bats inside after 3 years. The most important thing is that these attempts resulted into 88% of positive feedback. By the way, many users in the comments note a substantial decrease in the insect population in the bat-controlled areas.
Price: ~$66.06 Check the current price
Heath Outdoor Products Deluxe Bat House
This option has a significant advantage. It is protected from the impact of weather and pests. It is made of quality cedar and it looks decent enough for its price of ~$36.17. The dimensions of Heath Outdoor Products Deluxe Bat House (14.8 x 4 x 23 inches) are comparable with its Looker rival, but unfortunately there is no nylon net for the bats to grip on to inside the house. This bat house can fit up to 20 moderately-sized bats, which isn’t much but is quite enough if we’re not dealing with mass infestation.
The effectiveness of Heath Outdoor Products Deluxe Bat House was appreciated by 75% of customers, and it is therefore rated at 4.1 stars out of 5. The users state in the comments section that in reality the box would only fit 8-10 bats. Some of them complain of the mediocre assembly and sealing (insulation and nevertheless important): “This bat house was poorly constructed. I will have to do some work on it in order to get it as water- and weather-proof as it needs to be. There are huge gaps between the roof and body of the house and nothing for bats to grip on inside the house”, - comments Randy.
In spite of this, the bats still fly inside and can live in this house for several years. That’s why this option is suitable for those who are not chasing perfection and are looking for an optimal sized bat box at an affordable price.
Price: ~$36.17 Check the current price
Bat Houses Comparison Chart
Audubon Bat Shelter Model NABAT- #1BestSeller
12 x 4.2 x 16
Looker Products Triple Chamber Bat House
14 x 5 x 24
Heath Outdoor Products Deluxe Bat House
14.8 x 4 x 23
How to Attract Bats in a Bat Box with Guano?
Note that you’ll be able to find feedback by the customers who have been luring bats for years for all three products. Some of them used attractants; others even bought bats to settle them in the house. The simplest thing is to attract the bats during the breeding season, i.e. in the summer.
If you have firmly decided to install the bat house and invite the tenants there in the summer, here are a few tips on how to attract bats to your site by Liz Miller, the Penn State Master Gardener in Adams County.
- They are thirsty. A source of water: a pond, irrigation, or a mini-pool should be nearby.
- Use fragrant plants. They attract insects, and the insects attract bats. Some plants to consider are Evening Primrose, Four O'clocks, Nicotiana, French Marigolds, Heliotrope, Asters, Buddleia, Rosemary, Lavender and Honeysuckle.
- Attract bats with guano. They will settle in the house faster, if they feel the smell of their own feces. Collect guano in the attic and spread it over the bat box. This will simplify the process of migration from an attic or under the roof, for instance.
BUT: be careful when using bat guano as bait, as it can be harmful for your health. We’ll speak below about the diseases which you can catch from coming in contact with it so that you know that the bats are not only useful as they feed on mosquitoes in your backyard, but that they can also be dangerous.
Why Should You Know How Bats Hibernate?
Where and how do the bats spend the winter? Are they in hibernation? These are not idle questions in our business. This matter is especially important to the residents of the northern states, where the winter temperature drops below 0 degrees Celsius.
Let's start from the beginning. There are migratory and sedentary bats. If you have the migrating ones, it’s okay as in the fall they will fly away to warmer regions. But if you have sedentary ones, this could turn into a big problem for you.
Where Do Bats Live in the Winter?
Out in the wild the bats hibernate in caves and grottoes, where the temperature does not fall below zero, and where it is highly humid (so he would not need to drink) and quiet. If you live in the northern states, and in the winter the temperature falls below 32 degrees F, then be prepared for your sedentary bats to look for a quiet place to spend the winter. You are lucky if there is a cave or grotto, where they will be able to arrive for the winter, otherwise there is a risk that they settle in your attic, shed or basement. So maybe you should not "lure" them and hang the bat boxes at your place, and perhaps it is better to repel them (if you decide to repel them away, read our research of the Best bat repellents).
How Do Bats Hibernate?
After they have found a place for hibernation, the bats prepare for it. To do this, they use tabs or niches, and rough wood: they grip on them and climb inside, hang upside down, and remain in this position throughout the winter. Some types of bats prefer to hibernate in groups, clinging onto each other, while others hang separately.
Bats don’t hibernate immediately, but gradually, perhaps, at that time you’ll first hear their loud cries at your place. But then there will be silence as all the processes of life slow down and animals become numb. Interestingly, during the active summer period the bat body temperature can reach up to 118º F, and during hibernation it drops to 35 º F without any harm to the health of a baby-bat! The heartbeat also slows down: a furious pace of 400-600 beats slows down to the sluggish 3-4 best in winter. If you could take a bat in your hands at this moment, you would think it is dead. That’s why it’s a pity to wake the bats in the winter. The violent awakening and finding another place is a huge waste of energy for them and their tiny little bodies are alive only thanks to the stored in the summer energy of fat.
Why is Bat Guano So Dangerous?
The most obvious sign of a sleeping bat army is the pungent smell of ammonia, which is released by their guano. It often accompanies the hibernation of those bats, which hibernate in large colonies, for example, of the Mexican (Brazilian) free-tailed bats. They manage to survive with such a concentration of the toxin in the air which would kill a man! But this does not go without consequences as the ammonia turns the dark gray or brown bat fur almost white. It carries more serious hazard as well.
Small bats are often even clumsier and cannot always firmly hang upside down. I do not envy a pup which would accidentally fall down while hibernating. The scientists who drew up the Kansas Mammal Atlas claim “If a pup loses its grip and falls onto the surface of the guano, it literally is eaten alive by the dermestid beetle larvae that live in the guano”. So be very careful with the bat guano.
The bat guano causes histoplasmosis (capsulatum camsulatum histoplasma fungus), which in turn leads to human pulmonary diseases. You should therefore avoid inhaling dangerous guano fumes and stepping on the dried feces. Also, make sure you always wear a dust mask.
In the caves, where no man has gone before, huge deposits of toxic bat excrement will not cause harm to anyone. But if find in your attic, they present a real danger to your health, about which you need to be aware well in advance.