About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Where do you hang a bat house?

I saw the bat houses at your store and I was just wondering where you're supposed to hang them? Do they really work?

Bat Houses
Providing bat houses can help build the populations of many valuable bat species. In return the bats will consume half their weight in a night or as many as 600 or more insects an hour.

Bats find the bat houses just like birds find bird houses, by sight. If a house is in the proper location, meets the bats’ requirements and is needed, bats will move in on their own. The majority of bats that use houses are females using the house as nurseries.

In Michigan the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat are the most likely to use Wild Birds Unlimited bat houses which meet the specifications determined by Bat Conservation International and the Organization for Bat ConservationIn the northern two thirds of the U.S. and Canada, most bats migrate south in the winter. Most bats that inhabit bat houses in the summer will move to caves, or mines in the winter. Tree roosting bats will fly south.

Bat House Placement
Bat boxes should be hung at least 15’ above the ground-- the higher, the better. Houses mounted 20’ away from trees they are inhabited twice as quickly as those in wooded areas.

Research also shows that they are more successful if they have at least 8 hours of sun. The morning sun is most important. Bat houses should face the south or southeast.

In northern areas the top third of the house can be painted brown or black with a latex water base paint to aid in warming the box. In southern parts of the country, the boxes can be painted latex water base white, if there is too much direct sun.

Some Bat Facts
• Providing houses furnishes places for bats to roost, hibernate and raise young, in addition to, and when the natural sites are not available.
• Little Brown Bats, while hibernating can reduce their heart rate to 20 beats per minute and can stop breathing for 48 minutes at a time. Little Brown Bats can hibernate for more than seven months if left undisturbed.
• A group of bats is called a "colony"
• A baby bat is called a "pup"
• Bats are warm blooded mammals and nurse their babies with milk.
• A nursing little brown bat mother can eat more than her body weight nightly (up to 4,500 insects).
• They are the only mammals that can fly, but bats have fur and no feathers.
• Bats hang upside down so they can get high up and away from their predators and also to get an easy take off by just turning loose and flapping their wings.
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Donna Frasca said...

I was thinking about getting either a bat house to keep the bugs down in the summer or butterfly houses since I have so many in my backyard (from butterfly bushes). Maybe I'll get both.

Choover said...

I think your bats might eat your butterflies...

ckuboushek78 said...

Thank you for such an information article regarding bat house placement! I never considered having bats as a friendly neighbor before!

Anonymous said...

I would like to try hanging a bathouse (again). Any tips on how to prevent wasps from taking it over. I think I had the location right, based on your article, but instead of using the lovely house provided the bats 'hung out' under my cabin in the joists or in other unsuitable (from my pov) places.

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

Wasps can be a problem before bats fully occupy a house. While wasps have been known to coexist happily with bats, they eventually squeeze out the bats as their nests grows.

Wasp and mud dauber nests should be cleaned out each winter after bats and wasps have departed using a long, thin rod or stick.

If you spot bees or wasps trying to move into your bat house before the bats do, remove them with a sudden blasts from the garden hose. Do not use insecticides, as these can seep into the wood and harm future bat residents.

Good luck, Sarah