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A bat is not a flying mouse — they aren’t related to rodents at all. They are unique and have their own group: chiroptera. Bat Conservation International lists more than a dozen different types that might roost in your bat house.
A bat is not a flying mouse — they aren’t related to rodents at all. They are unique and have their own group: chiroptera. Bat Conservation International lists more than a dozen different types that might roost in your bat house. (BestReviews)

Like many wild animals, bats are in decline. Loss of habitat is a major cause, but fortunately, that can be easily remedied by putting up bat houses. As an added bonus for you, each of these little critters can eat more than 1,000 mosquitoes and other flying pests per day.

Read our buying guide to learn about bat houses and the features to look for. We've also made a few recommendations at the end of this article. Our favorite from Looker Products is built to last and provides the perfect home for up to a hundred of your flying friends.

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Considerations when choosing bat houses

Landing pad

Your primary concern should be what bats need. They like a landing pad, which is why almost all bat boxes extend below the actual roost area. Once they've landed, they need to be able to cling on and climb inside. A series of horizontal grooves is usually provided, though some use a fine mesh or other textured surface. Large, open mesh is not a good idea because it can trap their hands and feet.

Entry

Bats can get through surprisingly small gaps -- which is why people find them in their attic when they thought they'd sealed them out. The entry to your bat house should be no wider than one inch. This stops rats and other predators from getting in. Having the entry at the bottom also means guano drops to the ground below rather than collecting inside where it would attract parasites.

Size

Most low-cost models have a single chamber, but larger bat houses have anything from two to four. Like us, bats seem to prefer a house with more rooms. For them, it's about regulating the heat of the habitat and potentially providing a nursery area for mothers and babies. Think about the number of bats the house can accommodate and how this affects the physical size. Check dimensions before buying.

Exclusion

Bats are delicate creatures. If you need to evict them from an area of your home, you should never try to handle them -- in fact, in some areas, you would be breaking the law. The best idea is to buy bat exclusion tubes. These allow them to leave, but not come back. Seal all other areas, and when you're sure they're gone, remove the tubes and finish sealing.

Features

Material

Most bat houses are made of wood, with cedar and pine being good materials. Exterior-grade plywood can also be used and is a less expensive option. A bat house that's screwed together rather than nailed is usually a sign of quality and is likely to last longer.

Roof

Roofs should not open in case they let in water. While it's tempting to want to check on bats, you don't want to disturb them once they've taken up residence.

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Coating

In cooler areas, you can paint or stain your bat box a dark color to improve heat retention. Only ever use outdoor, water-based latex paints or stains. Anything else could poison the bats.

Mounting

Some bat boxes come with mounting kits, so check when ordering. A few high-end models even have poles to fix them to.

Price

You can get an inexpensive, single-chamber bat house to provide a roost for around a dozen bats for as little as $25. There's a wide choice from $40 though $80 that can hold anywhere from 100 to 300 bats. Large multi-chamber models can be as much as $200.

FAQ

Q. What's a good place to put my bat house?

A. The side of a building is ideal, where it gets sun for warmth (though not in full sun if you live in the south), a minimum of 15 feet up, and away from power or phone lines. A tall pole is also good, as long as it's sturdy. Trees aren't recommended because they can also be home to predators.

Q. How long does it take for bats to move in?

A. You need to be patient. It could happen quickly, but it might be many months. Some bats are migratory, so they aren't there all year. You can improve your chances with flowering plants that attract insects and a bird bath or pond for water.

Bat houses we recommend

Best of the best: Looker Products' Bat House

Our take: High-quality accommodation approved by the Organization for Bat Conservation (OBC).

What we like: Built from durable, naturally weather-resistant cedar, and exterior plywood. Has nylon mesh inside offering excellent hold and mobility. For up to 100 bats.

What we dislike: Nothing, though it might be more than some want to pay.

Best bang for your buck: Woodlink's Audubon Bat Shelter

Our take: Entry-level model is good size and generally well-made.

What we like: Accommodates up to 20 bats. Substantial wood thickness should provide good durability. Zinc-plated screws won't rust. Pre-drilled for mounting.

What we dislike: A few quality control issues.

Our take: Simple low-cost item has all the basics a bat needs.

What we like: Quick and easy to put up. Modest size fits just about anywhere. Grooves for grip.

What we dislike: Variable quality. Some not particularly well-made.

Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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