Bat House FAQ

What is a bat box?

A bat box is the same thing as a bat house, some people call it a bat box while others call it a bat house. It provides a safe place for bats to roost during the day.

Where should I place my bat house?

In general, bat houses should be:

  • attached at least 15 feet high
  • free from obstructions with at least 20 feet of open space
  • facing southeast to gain exposure to sunlight
  • The placement of your bat house plays a major role on its internal temperature. Bat houses can be placed on buildings such as the side of a house or a garage. They can also be mounted to a pole. Attaching a bat house to a tall, mature tree is another option, however studies have shown that bat houses placed on trees are less likely to be occupied than those on a building or pole.

    For more details, visit our page on bat house placement.

    Should I attach my bat house to a live tree?

    A live tree is usually not the preferred location for a bat house. Bats prefer the warmth of the sun while roosting during the day and will often look for dead trees or a bat house in a sunny location. If you are going to attach a bat house to a tree, try using a large, mature tree and putting the bat house in a sunny location. For more location ideas visit our page on bat house placement.

    How do I attach my bat house?

    We’ve put together instructions on the most popular ways to attach bat houses to a building or a post. Select where and how you’d like to attach your bat house from the options on our How to Attach page and we’ll provide you with step-by-step instructions for the option of your choice.

    When should I put up a bat house?

    Bat houses can be put up any time of the year. However, it is best when putting up a new bat house to have it up before the start of spring. In colder regions, bats return from hibernation and migration in the spring, looking for a place to roost and have their young. It’s best not to delay the attachment of your bat house as their other roosts may become unavailable anytime of the year, requiring them to search out a new home. Your bat house will be a potential location.

    If you are doing a bat exclusion from your home, we recommend putting up a bat house before the exclusion. This allows the bats to have a place to go after they are evicted from your home.

    Where can I buy a bat house?

    Proper bat house design is a critical factor in occupancy. The Organization for Bat Conservation's bat houses have a greater than 80% occupancy rate, as compared to only 10% with some other designs. You can purchase our successful, USA made bat houses in the Bat Store.

    Why are bat houses important?

    Bat houses benefit bats, you, your family, communities, farmers, gardeners and the ecosystem as a whole. Bat houses give bats a home and in turn they will eat thousands of insects. Bat houses give bats an alternative to our houses thus reducing the chance of human to bat contact. Bat populations have decreased significantly and bat houses can help provide secure habitat. Find out more of the importance of bat houses.

    How do I make my own bat house?

    After years of collaborative research, the Organization for Bat Conservation has compiled the key components that make a bat house successful. Building your own bat house is a great activity, check out our free plans including a step by step video and start building!

    Do bat houses really work?

    Yes, they do! Proper bat house design is a very important factor in occupancy. Our bat houses have a greater than 80% occupancy rate, as compared to only 10% with some other designs. See and read success stories.

    How do I attract bats to my bat house?

    There is no scent or item you can place in or around your bat house to attract bats. The location, temperature and the design are the key factors in bat house occupancy.

    Do I need to put guano in my bat house to attract bats?

    No, there is no scent or item you can place in or around your bat house to attract bats. The location, temperature and the design are the key factors in bat house occupancy.

    Can bats be purchased or relocated to my bat house?

    It is illegal to buy or sell bats, partially because many bat species in the US are endangered. Also, bats cannot be relocated and introduced into a bat house because will often times return to their original roost.

    How can I tell if bats have found my bat house?

    There are three primary ways to determine if your bat house is inhabited. Simply observe your bat house at dusk to see if bats exit, look for bat guano under the entrance of the house and if you can also look into the house with a flashlight to see if it is inhabited. Do not try to reach into the house.

    Will guano (bat poop) build up under the bat house?

    If you have a large roost of bats there is a chance that guano might build up just a little, however natural elements such as rain, sun and wind will break down the guano naturally. Bat guano is very high in nitrogen making it a great fertilizer. It is not known to be toxic or harmful to humans, dogs, cats or other animals.

    Why aren’t there bats in my bat house?

    The location and design of your bat house are very important. If the bat house is not in an optimal location or has a poor design you are less likely to have bats living in your house. Be patient, sometimes it can take over a year until bats decided to roost in your bat house. For more details on placement and design visit our bat house section.

    Will a bat house attract bats to live in my home?

    If bats were attracted to your home they would probably already be roosting there. It is better to provide bats with a place to live that is outside of your house. Bat houses are a better roosting option than your own house.

    Do I need to paint my bat house?

    It is not a requirement to paint the bat house, although in colder regions it is recommended to paint the bat house a darker shade such as brown or black in order to keep the bats warmer. Refer to our location recommendations for more information.

    What color should I paint my bat house?

    If and what color you paint your bat house depends on your region and where your bat house will be located. Painting the bat house is not a requirement, however in colder regions, using a darker color of paint such as brown or black, will help to keep the bats warmer. Cedar bat houses will also naturally turn a shade of gray over time.

    What kind of paint should I use to paint my bat house?

    Use a outdoor, nontoxic latex paint for your bat house. The paint should be a water-based paint not an oil-based paint.

    Should I paint the inside of my bat house?

    Do not paint the inside of the bat house. Painting the bat house can help to increase the warmth of the bat house, which is only beneficial when the outside is painted.

    We are repainting our house and we have bats in our bat house. What should we do?

    It would be best to paint your house in the late fall if you are in a region that bats will leave the bat house to migrate and hibernate. However, if you are painting your home at a time when the bat house is occupied there are some key steps to follow to minimize the disturbance to the bats. During the morning, tape a piece of cardboard over the opening of the bat house to keep the bats in the house. Remove the bat house from your house and place it in a safe and sunny location. Reattach the bat house to your house before sunset on that same day and then remove the cardboard covering. To minimize noise disturbance, use a drill rather than a hammer to attach the bat house.

    Do I have to maintain or clean my bat house?

    Bat houses need very little, if any maintenance. On rare occasions wasps may move into the bat house, however if the bats are living in the house with the wasps, there is no need to remove the wasps and disturb the bats. No other maintenance is needed, and it is not common for wasps to move into bat houses.

    Do I need to replace the mesh on the inside of the bat house on a regular basis?

    No, the mesh on the inside of the bat house is a durable plastic and should last the lifetime of the house. It is not necessary to replace it unless you notice any damage.

    What should I do if I get wasps in my bat house?

    Some bats have been known to live in a bat house with wasps, so if you have both bats and wasps living in the bat house, simply do nothing. However, if you feel that they are a problem and you do not have bats in the house, use protective gear and wash out the wasps with a high powered hose or clean out with a stick. It is important to the survival of the bats that may live in your bat house in the future NOT to use any kind of insecticide or chemical to remove the wasps.

    How can I protect the bats in the bat house from snakes, raccoons, cats and other predators?

    Our bat houses have a predator guard to keep out most cats and raccoons, however their narrow paws may be able to reach in and grab a bat from a full bat house. Our first recommendation to you is to not put your bat house on a tree. Trees are easy for snakes and cats to climb. Attaching a bat house at least 12 feet high to the side of a building or a metal pole will provide a safer home for the bats.

    If you choose to put the bat house on a tree, you can attach metal shield around the trunk of the tree. The metal piece should be around 2 feet wide and be placed high enough so raccoons and cats can't just simply jump over it, the higher the better, plus it will be out of your way as well. Make sure to place it at least a few feet away from the bat house though, to allow the bats to drop and fly out of the house.

    What do I do if a woodpecker damages my bat house?

    If the woodpeckers have made a fairly large hole in your bat house, it may need to be repaired. This will need to be done when there are not bats in your bat house- so during the off season in cooler regions (late fall and winter) or after sunset when all of the bats have left the house. Avoid repairing the bat house in the spring when babies may be occupying the house. You can patch the bat house with another piece of wood. Be sure to caulk the patch as well. You can also replace the front of the bat house with a new cedar piece as well. You’ll need to replace the plastic mesh on the inside of the bat house as well and caulk the replacement piece.

    We are moving. What do we do with our bat house?

    The best thing to do is to leave the bat house in its current location. The bats rely on that bat house being in its current location and will return to it year after year.

    How many bat houses should I put up?

    If you have the space to put up more than one bat house, go for it! The more bat houses you provide for bats, the better. Putting up more than one bat house will also give bats more options and increase your chances of having an occupied bat house. Some bats may prefer one location over the other, or depending on the region and season, they may choose a house in slight shade over a house in full sun.

    A baby bat fell out of the bat house. What should I do?

    If the bat seems to be injured contact a local, licensed rehabilitation specialist to handle the situation. If it is necessary to handle the pup (baby bat), wear thick work gloves. Try to place the bat on the bat house platform or as close to it as possible. Even place the bat up off the ground and in the tree can be helpful. If able, the mother bat will return for her put.

    Are there laws or restrictions against putting up bat houses?

    No, as long as you are putting the bat house on your own land and property there are no laws or restrictions against bat houses. You must obtain permission before attaching a bat house to a utility pole.

    © 2012 Organization for Bat Conservation