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Correct Bat House Placement

placing bat housesThat bats are blind is a misconception; they just see much better in the dark than they do in sunlight and they hunt by echolocation, rather than by sight. Working similar to sonar, they bounce sound waves off of their prey. They are actually very clean animals and though they look similar to a rodent, but more threatening because they have wings, they are much more desirable, cleaner and beneficial than mice, gophers, moles or rats.  

The bat population, unfortunately, is on the decline due to human civilization encroaching on their habitat and, in part, because bats have received a bad rap and have been targeted for eradication in some areas. If this trend continues, we will have lost an invaluable natural resource designed to be a natural enemy to the mosquito and other noxious flying insects. These harmful insects cannot become immune to bats like they can to the numerous chemicals utilized to control them. There will come a time when sprays and treatments will be largely ineffective against mosquitoes. Where will we be without the bats?

In order to be sure to attract bats, there are a few simple steps to follow. First, choose the type of bat house according to the number of bats that you wish to have working in your back yard. If you have a large area, or both a back and front yard, you may want to locate numerous Bat Houses strategically around your home. Bat Houses should be mounted about 15 feet above the ground, preferably facing south or southeast to take advantage of the heat of the morning and early afternoon sun. Most people prefer to locate them a number of feet from the house, but some will even hang their Bat Houses right on their own house or garage, convenient to a viewing area where they can watch the bats at work. Bat Houses placed on poles and structures tend to become occupied quicker than those placed on trees, most likely because they prefer not to have to navigate branches when flying in and out. If you find that you have bats living in your belfry or attic, place the bat house in close proximity to this area in order to lure them into a more suitable living arrangement, unless of course, you don't mind them in your house. You can relocate the Bat House a little further away once they have established habitation there.

Bats will normally be very abundant throughout the summer and into late fall, either hibernating or migrating to warmer areas with a more abundant food supply in the winter, returning again in early summer. Winter or early spring will be the best time to relocate your Bat House if you choose to.  

Most new bat houses will be occupied in the first 1 to 6 months. If you find that bats do not roost in your bat house by the end of the second summer, simply move the house to another location.  Thanks so much for helping these airborne friends!

28 Responses to “Correct Bat House Placement”

  1. Dennis Abriola says:

    If I place a bat house on a pole will it matter if it is in direct sun?
    Will the heat during the day hurt them?
    What color should the house be?

    Dennis A.

  2. jstutzman says:

    The color of the bat house does not matter. It the pole is not too thick, the direction it faces will not make a difference.

  3. Ron B says:

    Have thought of placing a new bat house a couple of feet under an existing martin house but the bat house would still be at least 15 above the ground.


  4. jstutzman says:

    I have not had anyone try this; however I am not sure that the two species would appreciate being right next to each other. I would recommend not placing the bat house close to the martin house.

  5. Ron Nobler says:

    I will be placing my 1st bat house on the west side of my home facing south east. I live at an 8,000 foot elevation and will be placing the house on a dead tree without branches with the bark stripped off. Two questions:
    1. Will my elevation affect the amount of bats I may expect?
    2. Will the fact I am placing the house on a dead tree without branches affect my ability to draw bats to the house?


  6. Hampton says:

    If I place a bat house in my back yard some 30 ft from my home and start having bats live in it (we currently see thenm in our yard at dusk), do I run a risk of having the bats find a home in my attic or elsewhere house?



  7. jstutzman says:

    The elevation will not be an issue. The dead tree will not be an issue. Facing it southeast is one of the most important factors. It is also benefical to have the bat house be placed with 30-40 feet of other trees. Good luck.

  8. jstutzman says:

    No there is no greater risk with a bat house than without one as they are already around your property. If you put one up, keep it facing southeast, at least 10 feet off the ground and within 30 feet of other trees. Good luck.

  9. Ruth says:

    Would city fumigation of mosquitoes be a problem for bats? Does it poison living mosquitoes, or larvae? Is there potential for bats to eat poisoned mosquitoes?

  10. jstutzman says:

    Ruth the spray that is used for mosquito control is a contact killer. The studies that have been done do not show any problems for bats.

  11. Michelle says:

    Is bat poop bad humans but, beneficiary to garden and trees?

  12. jstutzman says:

    Bat poop is very good fertiilzer for plants of all type. It is however not something you want to be around a lot. Not only does it smell bad, if left in your attice, it can give off a fungus, something you do not want in your home.

  13. theresa says:

    would placing a bat house on the right side wall of my west facing chimney present a problem .. as the bat entry could only take place from the left and center air space due to the house wall on the left of the bat house?

  14. jstutzman says:

    Theresa, the spacing would not be a problem for the bats, that is plenty of area for them to get in and out of. Good luck!

  15. Ruby says:

    Do bats exist in the city? I’ve never known of them in El Paso, TX (arid desert climate) but they were at our home away from town.

  16. jstutzman says:

    Ruby, bats do dwell in cities, its just harder to spot them at night.

  17. Kelly says:

    I live in Alabama where the summer is very hot. If I put my bat house on a pole in an open field with not much shade, will it be too hot for the bats in the bat house during the hottest part of the day?

  18. jstutzman says:

    Kelly, bats love the warmth, your bat house should be just fine there.

  19. Mike N. says:

    I just raised a 48″ tall single chamber bat house up to (entrance height) 11 feet. I’m wondering if it was done too late to attract bats this year. I live in Iowa. Also, the nearest permanent water source is probably the Cedar River 2,300 feet away. Is that too far?

  20. Mike N. says:

    I forgot to mention it is a rocket style bat house which brings me to another question. I cut grooves and wedges all over the 4×4 post, but not the interior side of the “walls.” Do the bats need both sides of their living space to have grooves, or was just the post enough?

  21. jstutzman says:

    Mike, it is not too late. Keep in mind that it might take a couple of years for them to find it. The distance to the water will be just fine. Good luck attracting the bats.

  22. jstutzman says:

    Mike, It is best if the groves are on all living surfaces.

  23. Garden Guy says:

    1) What is the requirement for cleaning a bat house? If so, is there a model that more-or-less self-cleaning?

    2) Are two smaller houses or one larger on more likely to encourage the bats in a neighborhood with lots of mature trees? Some trees have high canopies, so lots of flying space under.

  24. jstutzman says:

    Hello Garden Guy. For the most part bat houses do not require cleaning, so this is not really a requirement when making a purchase. As far as the size, we would recommend a larger one instead of two smaller one. Good luck with the bats! GHS

  25. cowgal359 says:

    I’m planning on placing a bat house onto my unused chimney. Would the south or east exposure be better? The bricks of the chimney are red, do I need to paint the bat house black or can I paint it the same color as the chimney? I live in SE Kansas, I don’t know if that makes a difference as far as temperatures/color suggestions go.
    Thank you!

  26. Jen says:

    We have a HUGE mosquito problem. Our property is in the city, lots of trees and lots of ground cover. Makes for a pretty yard, but the ‘squitos are vicious. The only way to put a bat house up, would be in the center of our yard, too many trees bordering the property. Would that deteour the bats?
    Thanks- Jen

  27. jstutzman says:

    Jen, unfortunately the bats will not be attracted to that type of location.

  28. jstutzman says:

    Yes, the south side would be fine. No paint is needed.

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