Wild Things Sanctuary is one of the only rehabilitation centers in upstate New York to rehabilitate bats. We love them! Many people have asked us about bat houses. Bat houses have become especially important in recent years as many roosting places in caves have become infected with White Nose Syndrome. Bats who commonly use bat houses in the NE are the Big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) (like the female bat pictured above) and the Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus). Give the bats a home and have the benefit of having free mosquito control!
We are not experts on bat houses, but we put together this page to help others find out information that they need in buying, building and/or setting up a bat house. Plus we've included information on how to attract bats. All of the below has come from other sources, which are noted. Wild Things has found that Bat Conservation International probably has the most comprehensive website with everything from how to build your own bat house, to where and how to install houses to make them extra attractive to bats looking for real estate. Check out Bat Conservation International's bat house webpage. Below are a few quick highlights:
Bat houses in the Northeast United States should be:
at least 15 feet high
free from obstructions with at least 20 feet of open space
facing south to southeastto gain exposure to sunlight
painted black or left natural
receive at least6-8 hours of sunlight each day
The placement of your bat house plays a major role in the internal temperature. Houses can be attached to structures such as poles, sides of buildings and tall trees without obstructions. The area under and in front of the bat house should be clear, allowing the bats to fly in and out. There should be at least 20 feet of open space around the bat house. Houses placed on poles and structures tend to become occupied quicker than houses placed on trees. Your bat house should be mounted at least 15 feet above the ground, the higher the house the greater the chance of attracting bats.
Bat houses should face south to southeast to take advantage of the morning sun. In northern states and Canada, bat houses need to receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. It is also advantageous to paint the house black to absorb plenty of heat. Baby bats require a very warm temperature. Paint only the outside of your bat house and use a non-toxic, latex paint.
Bats return from migration and awaken from hibernation as early as March in most of the U.S. They will be abundant through out the summer and into early fall. Approximately half of all bat houses are occupied within the first summer and up to 80% are occupied within the first 2-3 years. If bats do not roost in your house by the end of the third summer, move the house to a different location. It is also helpful to attach more than one bat house in your yard in order to provide bats with different housing options and increase your chances of having an occupied bat house.
Bat World Sanctuary: Bat Houses, a page all about bathouses including how to build your own AND how to build a bat "pup catcher" so babies living in a house won'thurt themselves or become separated from their mothers in case they fall. You can also download the information here: