Where to Place your Bat House in the Northwest United States

Bat houses in the Northwest United States should be:

  • attached at least 15 feet high
  • free from obstructions with at least 20 feet of open space
  • facing south to southeast to gain exposure to sunlight
  • painted black or left natural
  • receive at least 6-8 hours of sunlight each day

The placement of your bat house plays a major role in the internal temperature. Houses can be attached to structures such as poles, sides of buildings and tall trees without obstructions. The area under the bat house should be clear, allowing the bats to fly in and out.  There should be at least 20 feet of open space around the bat house.  Houses placed on poles and structures tend to become occupied quicker than houses placed on trees. Your bat house should be mounted at least 15 feet above the ground, the higher the house the greater the chance of attracting bats. 

Bat houses should face south to southeast in order to take advantage of the morning sun. In northern states and Canada, bat houses need to receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. It is also advantageous to paint the house black to absorb plenty of heat.  Baby bats require a very warm temperature. Paint only the outside of your bat house and use a non-toxic, latex paint.

Bats return from migration and awaken from hibernation as early as March in most of the U.S. They will be abundant through out the summer and into early fall. Approximately half of all bat houses are occupied within the first summer and up to 80% are occupied within the first 2-3 years.  If bats do not roost in your house by the end of the third summer, move the house to a different location.  It is also helpful to attach more than one bat house in your yard in order to provide bats with different housing options and increase your chances of having an occupied bat house.


Bats that Commonly Use Bat Houses in the Northwest

  • Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)
  • Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus)
  • Mexican Free-Tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis)
  • Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus)
  • Yuma Myotis (Myotis yumanensis)

For more information on identifying bats check out  "Stokes Beginners Guide to Bat Identification."  

Check out successful bat house photos and stories in your region!

© 2012 Organization for Bat Conservation