The loss of many natural areas has resulted in fewer available roosting spots for many species of bats. Fortunately, some bat species will also roost in wood boxes, or other types of artificial structures. Bat boxes are simple to make and are a practical way to contribute to wildlife conservation, even in your own backyard.
Photos: Ann Froschauer, Gerald Romanchuk, EALT
EALT places several types of bat boxes on our conservation lands, to provide homes for the many species of bats living in Alberta. With the help of our amazing volunteers, there are bat boxes installed at 6 of our conservation lands! Read this article about our bat box project written by Suncor.
Read more about the Little Brown Bat here!
Sometimes bats roost in our buildings. If you happen along bat pups please remember they cannot fly and they still rely on their mothers. Bats reproduce very slowly for their size, and populations are slow to recover once lost. Click here for info on managing bats in buildings.
You will need:
Features of a good bat box:
For more information about what makes a good bat box, check out the Alberta Community Bat Program's Bat House Guidelines Document!
The easiest design to build, however, only having a single chamber puts bats at risk of being exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures, so they are not recommended.
Install 10 to 15 feet off the ground on a post, pole, or on trees or buildings. Multi-chambered boxes give bats a range of environmental conditions to choose from to warm up or cool down.
Install 10 to 15 feet off the ground on a metal or wood pole or post in an open area with lots of sun exposure, ideally within 400 metres of a body of water. The vents should face North-South.
Bats are more likely to be found in areas where there is some natural vegetation and a water source, such as a creek or wetland. Installing a bat box in an area with these features will make it more likely to be used by bats.
Install boxes on trees or posts according to requirements (e.g. height from the ground, direction, distance to water, etc.). Multi-chambered bat boxes can also be installed on barns or sheds, but do not install them on houses.
Watch the boxes during breeding season for use. Bats are usually out and about during the summer time between the hours of 9:00 PM and 12:00 AM.
Another way to tell if your bat box is being used is the presence of guano, or bat feces. Installing a light-coloured mat around the base of your box will allow you to track if there are any droppings from users of your box.
Bat boxes don't require much maintenance. Each year, you should check for warping of the box and make repairs as necessary, and also ensure that wasps haven't taken over the box.