Let’s do something for our bat friends! Let’s build a bat house!
While much time is spent creating quality habitat for whitetail deer, game birds and fish, it is just as important that we stay focused on the habitat of all native wildlife that surrounds us day and night. Nationwide our nighttime friends, bats, are facing the same issues many of our other threatened and endangered species are.
Loss of habitat, food or poisoned food and the loss of quality rearing enclosures, caves or trees is taking its toll on the population.
Taking an hour out of your day to create one small bat house may just provide that structure the local bats need to sustain their population around your property.
We are attempting to do just that, provide a couple of spaces for our local bats to use.
Fortunately, the WV DNR provided a great Bat House Plan as part of their Landscaping For Wildlife information I mentioned in my earlier posts – here is its link again.
I used PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Board: the research I have done on PVC shows the final product is safe for use with all animals – plus it is likely your drinking water runs through PVC pipes.
The benefit of using a PVC board is that it is weather-resistant and should last multiple seasons versus wood.
I used the PVC board and regular wood combination based on what I have laying around the home shop. Let’s get started.
1 – 8’ board 1” x 8” (¾” x 7 ½” Finished Size)* Back and Front of House
1 – 5’ board 2” x 2” (1 ½” x 1 ½” Finished Size)* Sides and Ceiling
1 – 16 1/2” board 1” x 4” (¾” x 3 ½” Finished Size)* Roof
1 – Screening 151/2” x 23” (Fiberglass Only) (Allows bats to cling to the surface)
* If I have not mentioned it before board measurements are not exact – for example, a board sold at your local home/hardware/lumber store will say it is a 1”x 8”x 8’. The board you take home sold as a 1”x 8”x 8’ will be 8 feet long, but the thickness will actually be ¾” and it will be 71/2” wide. This is standard across the industry so you are not getting cheated, but you need to take into consideration when you are constructing wood projects.
Step 1: Cut & Prepare
Cut your 1”x 8” x 8’ into 5 boards 15 ¾” long. These serve as the front and back of the box. (again I cheated used a bigger sheet of PVC wood so I cut the front and back out as one piece.
Using the remaining 17 ¼” piece, cut one piece 15 ¾” and then rip it to 3 ¼” wide (front piece below the vent slot).
Then rip a ¾” piece off what you have remaining of your 15 ¾” piece and cut to 12 ¾” long for the restriction piece.
Cut your 2” x 2” board into 2 pieces 22 ½” long (sides) and 1 piece 12 ¾” (ceiling).
I used a PVC board for my house and cut my front and back out to the same dimensions as listed above and then cut my roof and vent piece as well.
I did use a 2” x 2” board for my sides and ceiling and a ¾” strip of wood for my restrictor piece.
Step 2: Painting the Pieces
Paint the pieces a dark color so they will absorb and retain some heat on sunny days.
It doesn’t have to be fancy…the bats don’t care!
Step 3: Begin Building the Bat House
Place 3 of your 5 1” x 8” x 15 ¾” boards on your flat surface and nail or screw your ceiling piece in place along the top of your house.
Once complete add your two side pieces and attach them.
Place your piece of fiberglass screen onto the back and fold it up along the sides and staple in place. This will provide a surface inside the house for the bats to cling to and move around on.
Place the remaining two 1” x 8” x 15 ¾” boards on top of the sides, flush with the top of the ceiling and nail in place.
Using the remaining piece of wood from your 8’ board, cut it to 15 ¾” for your vent piece and once you rip the board to a 3 ½” vent piece, it will leave you a ¾” piece for your restrictor.
Cut the restrictor down to 12 ¾” in length.
Attach the restrictor to the vent board (so it will be on the inside of the house and secure your vent board in place with a ¾” vent or gap between the bottom front board and the vent board.
This will allow for house ventilation and cut down on condensation during pup rearing. Yes, baby bats are called “pups”!
Once complete with your vent piece, secure the final piece which is the roof.
It will be wider than the front, back and ceiling pieces you have together so that the overhang is on the front side of the house providing a little rain cover for the house.
Placement of Your Bat House
Bats make their homes in just about any dark and mostly dry location they can find ranging from dead trees to caves.
The recommended locations would be near the back of your home or somewhere close where you and your family can observe the bats using their new habitat.
If you have gone hog wild and built 10-15 houses – then wherever you have free space remaining.
Place the box at least 15’-20’ off the ground on the second story of your home and watch for the bat stork to visit with a new pup this summer!