One of nature's most enigmatic creatures, the lives of bats have been steeped in mystery for centuries. As of late, these amazing creatures have piqued the interest of not only researchers and conservationists, but bird enthusiasts as well. If you're interested in setting up a bat house, here are a few tips to attract bats to your structure.
A few facts on bat houses
If you properly install your bat house and pay attention to other factors such as box location and availability to predators, there's a good chance you'll attract bats. According to statistics from Bat Conservation International, bats inhabit approximately 60% of all reported bat houses. Ninety percent of bat houses were used within two years, with 50% being occupied in the first year.
Bats typically look for new roosting opportunities while foraging at night. In nature, they look for nooks and crannies that will provide shelter from predators. Though they are often used, bat lures or attractions (such as guano) are unlikely to attract bats. What is most important is that you properly set up and create ideal conditions in your bat house.
Where to install your bat house
Nursery colonies of bats tend to choose roosts close to water. In general, bat houses are the most successful in areas of natural vegetation that have a variety of agricultural uses. Having bats already in the area, especially if they are living in buildings or other human-made structures, is another good indication that a bat house can be successful.
The most critical variable when installing bat houses is making sure you have warm, stable temperatures, as such weather is ideal for mother bats to raise their young. During the summer, temperatures on the inside should range between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
You may have to experiment with different locations with your bat house to get the right temperature, as the amount of direct sunlight the bat house gets will be a big factor. Buy a thermometer and try a variety of spots with different sun exposure to find the right location. In general, mounting your bat house on the sides of a wooden structure is preferable to mounting it on poles because the temperature will stay more consistent
Keeping your bat house populated
Bats have a strong tendency toward nest fidelity, which means that they'll often return to the same nest year after year. However, in order to ensure their presence, it's important to keep your bat house in good shape. Make sure you clean out any wasp nests. Also, check for cracks or potential leaks or drafts. Remember, it's always important to perform this maintenance when the bats aren't in the box.