We’re not only about birds here at FeatheredFeeders. Any wildlife you’re lucky enough to have in your backyard or property needs to be protected and cherished.
Bats are fascinating animals and if you’re lucky enough to have them living near you, you can provide a home for them at little cost. This is a great way to get kids interested in the local wildlife besides birds; especially as bats are generally animals that are rather cryptic and not often seen or noticed by anyone but the most curious naturalist.
Sure, bats won’t be as visible to you as the birds that come into your backyard. But you can feel good knowing that you’re doing your part to help conserve and protect these most important species.
Bat shelters are a novel way of providing much needed protection to bats. In this review we focus on the Audubon Bat Shelter which is large enough to give shelter to 20 bats.
Not many products are hand crafted in the USA these days, but this bat shelter from Audubon is. So you know it’s not going to be a cheaply made, low quality construction with a short life. This thing is solid and clearly built to last.
It’s made of reforested red cedar and obviously has a very natural, appealing look to it. It is weather resistent and designed to last long term.
The inscribed Audubon logo and bat graphic is a nice touch. Seeing the shelter up close, you could imagine something handcrafted like this costing twice as much as it does.
You don’t have to assemble the house because it comes all ready to go. All you need to do is find a great location, then decide where you’re going to mount it to give your local bats the best chance of finding their new shelter.
What bats will use this bat house?
Research has shown that many bat species will use bat shelter boxes like the Audubon Cedar shelter. The species you could get in your box will obviously depend on where you live. If you live in the range of any of these bat species then you’re in lucky:
- Big brown bat
- Cave bat
- Eastern pipistrelle bat
- Evening bat
- Little brown bat
- Mexican free-tailed bat
- Northern long-eared bat
- Pallid bat
- Pallas’ mastiff bat
- Rafinesque’s big-eared bat
- Southeastern bat
- Yuma bat
If you need something with a larger capacity, consider the Cedar Bat Chalet (25 bats) or Cedar Bat Cottage (up to 40 bats)
The landing area and interior of this bat shelter has been made grooved and rough so that bats can easily land and hold on when roosting.
It can be pole mounted if you want and the recommended mounting location for the shelter is between at least 10 feet up from the ground, ideally on a tree or on a high building such as a barn – natural locations where bats will go to find a roosting spot. Putting the bat box near water, such as a pond or stream, is ideal since bats are attracted to these water sources.
Bat Conservation International has a useful guide for installing bat houses on a building, which you can check out here.
There are holes already drilled in the box to make it easy to mount using these default holes, or you can take your own drill to it if you need a more custom solution; depending where you want to put the bat house. Also included are screws and a bracket ready for mounting on a pole, building or tree.
Benefits of having a bat shelter at home
- Provide habitat for bats
- Free pest control – bats catch and eat mosquitoes and other flying insects, preventing them from getting into your house. A single bat can consume hundreds of insects per hour
- Bats also take care of insects that attack your plants and vegetable garden, plus provide a free pollinator service as bats are excellent pollinators
How will you know if bats are starting to use the shelter?
In the early stages you might find it difficult to be sure that there are any bats making use of your bat house. But the subtle first signs of bat guano (droppings) underneath plus the more obvious (and beautiful) view of bats leaving the shelter at sunset will alert you to the fact that your bat shelter is being used and valued by the local bats.
Tips for using this bat shelter:
- When mounting the bat house, keep in mind whether it will be possible for squirrels and other wildlife to access it. You want to prevent this happening. While squirrels are unable to secure themselves inside the box (they might however like to sit on top of it), their presence could scare off the bats. The same goes for cats and any other animals that can climb. This is particularly an issue if you are going to mount the bat box to a tree. If you think this could be a risk where you are, consider using a pole instead and place it away from trees.
- Don’t disturb the bats: Once on or more bats starts to use the box, simply leave them alone. Disrupting the colony or disturbing the bats in any way is likely to make them leave and never return. It could also cause them to abandon their young.
- If you’re not having any luck with bats using the box, consider your positioning. Make sure the bat house is facing ideally in a south east to southern direction. It should get at least several hours of sun every morning, but be protected from direct wind and from harsh summer sun in hotter climates.
Have patience. It can take some time for the bats to find the habitat you’ve provided, but when they do, they’ll remember where it is.
- If you already know there are bats around, try and locate your shelter nearby.
Dealing with insects using the bat house
If you find that wasps or another swarming insect colony starts taking an interest in your bat shelter by starting to set up a nest, some people have shared their methods of warding off the insects including with a spray of water with a hose.
You’ll need to be vigilant though and deal with it in the beginning to avoid having to deal with angry stinging insects. Note that using any sort of chemicals to deter insects is definitely not recommended by us; for the sake of the bats, the insects themselves (who do have a right to live and find their own home somewhere), and for the environment at large.
We’d love to hear of any novel ideas people have of deterring or removing insects from bat houses, so share them in the comments below if you’ve experienced this!
Northern Long-eared Bat: USDAgov