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June 2012
Contents / home
Hornbills get taste of the wild
International Year of the Rhino
DIY: Build a bat box
Holiday courses
Biodiversity Youth Symposium
Community produce animal food
Debunking myths around owls
Air Force knee deep in mud!
NZG display draws crowds
Solving wildebeest dilemma
Tick-borne disease mystery
Inspiring aspirant vets
ZooClub in scientific mode
Science going places
Talkin' about takins
Conservation Grapevine
 

DIY: Build a bat box

 
  Installing a backyard bat house is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to nature. Homes are often in short supply for bats. Their populations are declining around the world, often because of disappearing habitat.
 
  Bats are good neighbours to have around. They are a great natural pest controller.
Tired of the mosquitoes eating you alive during the summer months? Try this environmentally friendly option to control those pesky insects - place a bat house in your garden!

Installing a backyard bat house is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to nature and your bat-tenants will pay you back with some wonderful benefits. You will enjoy learning more about bats as you watch them come and go from the home you provided. Homes are often in short supply for bats. Their populations are declining around the world, often because of disappearing habitat.

Bats are good neighbours to have around. They are a great natural pest controller. On average just one bat can catch up to 100 mosquito-sized insects in an hour! Bats play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and by placing a bat house in your garden you will not only encourage bats into your area, but you will be helping to eradicate nocturnal insects such as mosquitoes from your environment.

A colony of over 300 000 bats live in the De Hoop Caves near Bredasdorp and research has shown that this colony catches over 100 tons of insects a year including crop pests. Good news for the environment and for us - with the bats keeping insect levels low, local farmers use fewer harmful chemicals and poisons on their crops.

By following these simple guidelines you could soon have your own colony of bats living in your garden:

Place your bat house in a suitable spot in your garden during the summer months and with luck you should see the first signs of habitation in the first season. The erection of more than one box will greatly increase your chances of occupation, which can sometimes occur within only a few weeks!

The box should be placed high up, at least two metres above the ground either in a tree, on a pole or under the eaves of a building. The box must be positioned to catch the morning sun and out of draughts.

Years of research have shown that bat houses are far more successful at attracting bats if they are painted or stained. Painting helps provide the proper internal temperature for bats and also increases the life span of the bat house. Appropriate colour depends upon geographic location and amount of sun exposure. Adjust to darker colours for less sun and choose flat paint rather than gloss or semi-gloss paint for best solar absorption. Make sure your bat house is well sealed with non-toxic or water based latex paint - bats don't like leaky roofs!

Bat boxes can be purchased, but if you wish to build your own bat house, follow these recommendations:

  • The box should be made of wood and must be at least 41cm tall by 31cm wide.
  • Bats need at least 2 centimetre roosting space inside the box and a 10 to 15 cm landing area. The more chambers there are in the house the greater the occupancy rate will be.
  • Remember to seal the box well and to place it high up out of draughts.

Bat house plans

Bat Conservation International has many great bat house resources including two free certified bat house plans. The following Bat House Flyers provide building plans and advice for a successful project.

  • Free Single Chamber Bat House Plan
  • Free Four Chamber Bat House Plan
  • Installing your Bat House on a Building
  • Installing your Bat House on a Pole
  • Criteria for Successful Bat Houses
  • Bat Houses: The Secrets of Success

    Watch a video showing Common Pipistrelle bats emerging from a building in The Netherlands.


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    GivenGain
    Zoo and Aquarium Visitor