Should I Bother With Bat Houses?

Are bat houses worth the money? I was told by an employee of a local park that it’s not really worth putting them up, since bats rarely use them and will find other places for themselves.

—Adam Ackerman, Germantown, OH

Successful bat houses have been put up all over the world, but there is nothing you can do to guarantee you’ll attract inhabitants. The environment you live in will play a major role in the success or failure of a bat house. Obviously, if there are no bats in your area, don’t expect to attract them just because you put up a bat house. If you live in the country near water and forests with caves, it’s unlikely that bats will come to live in a little wooden box. Are bat houses actually beneficial to bats? Yes, indeed, if they’re providing an appropriate nesting space in an otherwise inhospitable environment.

 bat houses
Credit: Andrew Codrington, FlickrCC

According to John Seyjaget of The Lubee Foundation, which is devoted to bat research and preservation, you have to put in the extra effort to turn the house into a home. Bats will move into houses erected in urban areas, but the environmental and food conditions must also be right. Bat houses should be 18 to 20 feet above ground. They should also face the sun, so bats can warm up in the afternoon to raise their metabolisms before night flights. If you are having trouble with your bat house, occupancy can sometimes be substantially improved by moving it only a few feet higher or closer to the sun.


The Lubee Foundation
18401 NW County Road 231
Gainesville, FL 32609
Tel: (352) 485-1250

Bat Conservation International
PO Box 162603
Austin, TX 78716
Tel: (800) 538-BATS