Backyard Bat Houses
would I want a bat house?
Bats are the
most important controller of night-flying insects,
including many agricultural pests. One small bat can eat up to
3,000 insects in a night!
Unfortunately, many bat species
are disappearing at alarming rates. Disturbance or
destruction of roost sites due to development and
vandalism constitute the greatest threat to the world’s
bats. Most bats living in Florida prefer to roost
in mature trees, dead trees (snags), or in caves. However, many
bats take up residence in buildings, or other
manmade structures, due to loss of habitat. Bat houses
provide alternative roost sites for Florida's
colonial bat species. A bat house in your
backyard will offer local bats a much needed place to live. They will also do you
a return favor by helping to control the insects
in the area. You can
also help by supporting conservation
organizations that protect natural areas.
Protecting natural areas
also provides natural habitat for Florida bat
species that do not move into bat houses.
Can I build my own bat house?
If you would like to build your own
bat house, you can obtain plans for a triple
chambered bat house by clicking on
House Plans. To see photographs of the
bat house under construction, click on
Photos. To watch Florida Bat Conservancy
volunteer, George Fenner, describe how to build a
quality bat house, click on
move into my bat house?
Bat houses are becoming more successful in
Florida. Experience and research are helping
us to improve the design
and better understand where to locate them. Unfortunately, there is no known way to attract
bats to a bat house. The best we can do is
use a good design, place it in a good location,
and hope the bats will find the bat house,
like it, and move in.
Where should I locate my bat
The species of bats that would most likely move
into a bat house are typically colonial bats.
These bats would normally roost in old dead trees
or caves, but in urban areas they will move into
manmade structures. These bats are gregarious by
nature and like to squeeze closely together into
tight crevices. They prefer their roosting
quarters to be warm, safe from predators, and with
a small amount of ventilation. Bat house designs
attempt to provide these needs, but the bat house
itself doesn’t attract bats. Bats need to discover
it on there own. So, as a bat house owner you want
to make your bat house as obvious as possible to
bats and attempt to enhance its ability to meet
their needs. Here are some suggestions.
If you have bats in your area, observe their
normal flight patterns and locate your bat house
where the bats will most likely see it with their
eyes, or discover the crevices with their sonar.
By the way, larger bat houses seem to have a
higher occupancy rate than smaller ones.
There are typically three alternatives for
mounting a bat house: on a post, on the side of a
building, or on a tree. For the average home owner,
a post is likely the most desirable option. It
provides a great deal of flexibility on where the
house can be located. The second choice would be
the side of a building. The only concern is that
droppings may start showing up on the wall of the
building and some folks find this objectionable.
Bat houses mounted on trees seem to have the
lowest occupancy rate of the three choices. If a
bat house is located on a tree, it should be
oriented in a way that keeps branches from
obstructing the entrance, and allows as much
sunlight on the bat house as possible.
Experience indicates that the bat species which will move
into bat houses prefer warm roosting sites, so
locate your bat house where it will get at least
six hours of sunlight. In Florida, this is not as
critical as up north, but you should avoid areas
that are shaded during much of the day. This may
be one of the reasons that houses mounted on live
trees do not do as well. Dead trees don’t have
The bat house should be located at least ten
foot above the ground. Bats have moved into lower
roosts, but statistics indicate the higher the bat
house is mounted, the greater the chance it will
Bat houses located on a dock, or on the edge of
a lake, pond, or other open fresh water body are
often occupied in a few months. If possible, locate the bat house within a
quarter mile of open fresh water. Bats will
usually fly to a fresh water lake or pond to drink
before they begin to forage. They fly close to the
surface and lap up the water as they pass over it.
Many home owners don’t have control over this
factor. If there is water in your area, it is a
plus, but the lack of it does not mean you won’t
get bats in your bat house.
Be patient. Although we have reports of bats
moving into a bat house within a few weeks, it
often takes a few years before bats move