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At first you have to know why would you want bats around your home?
They are scary, aggressive, and will suck the blood out of you if given the chance! Well, none of these are quite true.
There are more than a thousand species of bats and only a handful of them have an appetite for blood. Don’t worry though, they don’t have any interest in us humans.
What you should be worried about, however, are mosquitoes. Fortunately, bats love to consume them and other small insects. You can get rid of the mosquito problem by letting the bats deal with them. But how?
The answer is simple. Install a bat house!
Bat houses are extremely effective at eliminating mosquitoes and other insects from your property. If you are looking to find a solution for the mosquito issue, then hanging a bat house should be your first option.
What is a Bat House?
A bat house is a shelter that provides an artificial roosting habitat for the nocturnal creatures. They provide a wide range of benefits and also serve as a means to slow down their dwindling numbers.
They come in various shapes and sizes. They are often small and unlike a birdhouse, the structures are flat. They are typically made out of wood and are installed on the sides of a building or tall poles. To ideally mimic their habitat, bat houses need adequate warmth from the sun and open space.
Bats are the top predators for insects. They can consume almost any night-flying insects such as mosquitos. They help in controlling the insect population and can reduce the risk of deadly viruses such as Zika and West Nile.
How To Install A Bat House
Once you have bought or built your own bat house, it is important to know how you can install it. A perfectly installed bat house will stay habitable for years. Let’s go through the essential tools and steps for installing a bat house.
Tools You Need To Install Bat House
In order to hold the bat house in place, screw holes need to be drilled. You can use a 3/32” drill bit or a similar size for pilot holes. The holes will allow you to screw the brackets and the bat house together. It is also needed to drill holes on the exposed section of the bracket to attach the structure to your house.
The bat house needs to be installed at a considerable distance from the surface. It is usually placed at approximately 10-12 feet from the ground. If you are placing the structure on a pole or your home, you need a ladder to reach that level.
Attaching the bat house to the wall or pole requires screws and for this reason, a screwdriver is a must. You have to tighten the screws so that the bat house stays firmly in position.
Measurements are important. You want the bat house to be as level as possible. Use a tape measure to make sure that thy hang evenly from the pole or your home. It is also important to find the distance from the surface to the bat house.
Steps When Hanging A Bat House
Bat houses can be mounted on houses or large poles. Installing the structure isn’t a challenging task and can be done with the help of a few tools.
1. Prepare The Mounting Brackets
To mount a bat house, you will need brackets that will allow you to attach it to the wall. Simply measure the size of the house and add approximately 6 inches to it. The length you find will be the size of your mounting brackets.
In order to make the bat houses as sturdy as possible, you will need to cut 2 pieces of wood to the length you have previously acquired. Use a handsaw or an electric saw to make 2 identically sized pieces of wood.
2. Mark The Drill Spots
After you have made the brackets, the next step is to attach it to the bat house. To do this, simply mark the pilot holes on the back of the bat house. The marks will serve as a guide for the drill. Make sure the marking are evenly placed and at least 1 inch from each edge.
3. Drill Screw Holes To Attach The Brackets
The next step is to drill the screw holes using a power tool. Using a 3/12 inch drill bit, drill the markings on the back of the house. After that, carefully line up the brackets with the bat house and mark the pilot holes on them. It is important that they are aligned perfectly so that it becomes easy to insert the screws.
You should be able to look through the holes in the brackets and the bat house. Hold the brackets in place by using a wood screw. Then screw and tighten them using a screwdriver. You can use a wooden clamp to hold the brackets If they start to shift during the process.
You also have to make holes for screws on the exposed section of the bracket. This will be used to attach it to the wall.
4. Attach The Bat House On The Wall
The final step is to attach the bat house. Using a ladder, move up to the section of the wall where the bat house will be attached. You can ask someone to hold the house for you as you insert the screws in. Drill the screws through the exposed section of the bracket and tighten it. Make sure there are enough screws to securely hold the bat house.
Where To Hang A Bat House?
Prior to installing a bat house, there are some factors that you need to consider. In order to mimic their roosting habitat, bat houses must be installed at specific locations where the temperatures are just perfect for them to thrive.
Let's find out the best spot where you can install a bat house.
One of the important factors to consider when putting a bat house is the location. If the suitable conditions are met, you will have the best chance of having the bat house occupied.
Having a natural source of water within 1500 feet of your property is ideal. Bats prefer roosting in areas near a river stream, lake, or pond. Alternatively, artificial water bodies can also be used to entice bats.
Receives Adequate Sunlight
Bats prefer warmer temperatures. The bat house needs to receive at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day. This will keep the temperature inside the bat house warm enough to keep them comfortable. Make sure that the bat house faces South or East so that it gets the maximum exposure.
Place It away From Large Trees
Predatory animals that prey on bats such as owls tend to perch on nearby trees. If there is a large tree nearby, place the bat house approximately 20 to 30 feet away.
Bat houses can be installed on your home or a large post if the conditions are just right. The house should be mounted at least 10 to 12 feet from the ground. Bats usually dive down to gain some momentum before they start to fly. A decent amount of ground clearance will help them achieve that momentum.
Bat House Installation Tips And Cautions
Here are some tips that will increase your chances of having a colony of bats around your bat house.
1. Paint The Bat House
The color of the house will allow you to attract bats. Darker colors tend to retain more heat compared to the lighter ones. This is important as warmer internal temperatures are ideal for female bats. During colder climates, paint the house in dark colors. The opposite goes for warmer climates.
2. Install An Artificial Water Source
Bats can lose about half their body weight in water a day. It is important to have a water source such as a pond or river nearby. If there are no natural water bodies around, install an artificial water source such as a fountain to entice the bats.
3. Do Not Place The Bat House In Shaded Areas
Shaded areas block natural sunlight. The internal temperatures inside the bat house might not be suitable for bats as there won't be sufficient heat to keep the house warm. If you are going to install the structure on a pole, make sure they are not shaded by dense trees.
4. Cover Any Holes In Your Home
If you are installing a bat house on your wall, make sure to seal up and gaps or openings. You don't want the nocturnal creatures to accidentally get inside your home. Bats are small enough to fit through a hole the size of a quarter. Cover any openings before hanging the bat house.
5. Do Not Install The Bat House Next To A Brightly Lit Area
Bats being nocturnal creatures tend to avoid bright sources of light. Their visibility decreases during the daytime or when an artificial light source is present. This makes them vulnerable to predators such as eagles and sparrow hawks. Avoid installing a bat roost next to a shining light source.
Disadvantages Of Bat Houses
Bats can be risky neighbors to have. There are multiple benefits to installing bat houses. However, they also come with a few risks.
Here are the major disadvantages associated with bat houses:
1. Bats Can Transmit Viruses
Bats are known to carry viruses notably rabies. The pathogens they carry can easily infect humans and cause serious, sometimes fatal diseases. However the risk of getting bitten by a bat is very low and also, they tend to avoid contact with humans unless they are threatened.
2. Bat Excrement Can Be Contaminated
Bat-borne viruses are transferred via bites. Their saliva contains pathogens that can infect humans. Viruses can also spread via the aerosolization of their excrement. The diseases known as histoplasmosis can affect the lungs. Special care must be taken when dealing with bat droppings.
3. They Require Specific Conditions
Finding a spot for your bat house can be challenging. The conditions to get bats in your area has to be just right. It is also possible to not have bats in your area even if all the conditions are met as their might be other places in the vicinity of the bat house where they can roost.
The mosquito-borne illness affects more than 700 million a year. They carry dangerous viruses and can be hard to eliminate completely.
Bats can be a natural solution to this problem. It is estimated that a single bat consumes approximately 6000 to 8000 mosquitos every night. By installing a bat house, you can make your area mosquito-free.
These nocturnal creatures are not only effective at hunting mosquitos. They also help pollinate plants and distribute seeds. They are an essential part of our eco system and help increase biodiversity.
Knowing how to install a bat house and having one around will surely benefit your surroundings and the ecosystem as well.