Bat houses

I am wondering who has tried putting up bat houses and what the results were. What size, where, when, etc.

I put up a purchased bat house following the instructions and in ten years I got no bats.

Based on past conversations on this topic it seems like 80% or more of the bat houses people put up don’t get occupied. I have bats flying in the area, thats why I put it up where I did.

I’ll ask a couple wildlife expert friends about this and report back.

Probably like getting Purple Martins to your house… Some can put up a few houses and get Martins the first try and others wait years…

I’d love more information on this. Most of the pests that I deal with are nocturnal (june bugs and moths) so bats would be welcome. I have a normal house up but it is not in an appropriate location. This year I was going to invest in putting up a colony house in a better location but so far I have been hard pressed to find any information specific to bat colony effects on orchards. I’ll likely do it to help stifle the mosquitoes but more information would still be nice.

From my reading though scott is in the right place. A colony house is not a guarantee and even if it does become occupied it seems that it can take over a year to happen. On the other hand it seems that if you mount a basketball net to your garage you are almost guaranteed to have a bat living behind it in minutes from my experience.

I was at a friend’s house one evening. We were all hanging out at the patio around dusk. I noticed bats flying out from behind the neighbor’s chimney. I started counting them as they flew out. I got up to a hundred and quit. Considering how many there might have been before and after my counting, I couldn’t believe there were that many bats living between the cement block chimney and the house. My friend mentioned they never had a problem with bugs around the pool area.

My dad built me a bat house because I am trying to keep the bats from hanging on the screen that keeps bugs out of the attic. It’s hanging on my chimney facing roughly east, and gave me a few bucket fulls of guano underneath this last summer which I mixed into my compost pile.

1 Like

Bats are very particular about location of their house. A good place to start for information is Bat Conservation International website. There is some great ideas on house placement and where not to put it. I am also of the belief that houses should not be made of cedar or anything with a strong odor. The vapor from cedar can cause respiratory problems in baby bats.
I have 2 bat houses that are located on a 4x4 pole 20 feet in the air. The houses are about 3 ft wide, 2 feet tall and have 3 Chambers. I had the pole moved to a higher level in the yard away from any obstructions like trees. My houses were occupied almost immediately. If you remember that bats are all about location and your house doesn’t have bats after a couple of years then it’s time to move the house.


@MollyF Molly- Great post. A friend of mine was head of BCI and am waiting to get an answer from him on tricks to lure bats. I have read about needing to provide a water source and certain plants that bloom or give off odor at night. Did you do either of those? Are those unnecessary? Where did you get your bat house? Steve

I just recently planted a bat garden around the pole. These are flowers that attract the insects that the bats eat. I also have a bird bath that they sometimes get water from, but really we are close to several mountain streams, creeks and ponds. I bought my houses from “Fly By Night” in Florida. Mine are painted dark brown, and I have them placed back to back with a bridge between them on the pole. Something else to think about…don’t use concrete on a wooden pole. The concrete attracts and holds moisture causing rot on the pole. I used Dry Lock (water proofer) on the entire pole before having it installed. The pole is stationed using coarse rock for drainage. Also, make sure to add a metal roof to any bat house. The roof will deteriorate quickly without it, and bats are not fond of drafty houses. There are also several books with plans on building houses. I am no expert, but I would be willing to give input and advice to anyone wanting it. Of course, if you would like to visit my bats, just say so. Everyone is always welcome. You will have to wait a couple of months to visit though, they are currently in caves hibernating.

1 Like

I read a bunch of those websites and tried to follow all the suggestions in terms of pole not by trees, painting it dark, right sun exposure, trying different spots, etc. Still no bats. Now I use the pole for my weather station.


my uncle made me a small one. planning to put it out next spring. good thing i found this thread. i know nothing about placing the bat house. ill read up on mentioned sources.

Purchased a recommended bat house. Read up on them and put it where I thought was a good location. Two years and no bats.

Built two bat houses; painted black, mounted on each end of the house. Twenty years and no bats. Bats are flying in the summer. No bats. Guess I’ll have to move the houses to a new spot.


Thanks for the post. i read somewhere about building a house (might be different buying one) that said bats probably wouldn’t occupy it for a few years and it had something to do with the smell…human smell and/or plywood smell or ?? There are a fair number of bats around here and they definitely like the creek…lotsa bugs. I don’t know where they live but it seems like a protected ‘house’ would be better than just hanging under some branch or ?? so I think I’ll get back to learning about how and where to build and locate one. I have a new ‘bat shirt’…I will try to learn their ways.


Here are some bat house installation guidelines- distance from nearby trees, etc:

Here is list of fatal flaws: Why Do Some Bat Houses Fail? – Bat Conservation and Management, Inc.

Looks like big, multi-chamber is way to go. Now you’ve got me interested.

1 Like

Checking into what I did here is the house I bought:

@hambone I used a similar guide to situate my bat house. I also found I emailed one of their experts to ask about ideas since I wasn’t getting any bats. They told me everything about the location sounded good, but to paint it black, I did that and it didn’t help.

If I were to try it again I would get 2-3 houses and keep moving them around and hope I get lucky.

@scottfsmith Do you have a creek or pond within 1/4 mile? I see that as a desirable asset on a couple websites.

From Maryland DNR Bat Lady email:

"White Nose Syndrome has taken a toll on bat populations but big browns and evening bats are still in good numbers and will occupy a box if roosts are needed in the area. Put the house as high as possible!

The ideal height for installing on a 4x4 would be the highest poles you can get or safely install. Ideal exterior house color for Maryland area would be dark brown or dark green."

From Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage: "Steve, we are not aware of successful bat houses in Md other than ones put up adjacent to where bats have been excluded from homes (like attics) . Sorry I can’t be of help here . We wish we could help bats with housing . Most bats I see using man made structures are hiding behind shutters on houses. "

Scott- the CWH opinion explains your experience.

Friend reports he had bats when he lived in PA- in a box 30 feet up on side of barn.

I’ve had a bat house in several locations over several years for going on a decade. I’ve yet to see evidence a bat ever looked at it. I read all the websites. Currently have mine 25’ up on the side of my chimney. I will keep trying.

I had a creek about 100’ from the box. I pretty much went through everything on those website lists. Maybe I should have moved it more but at some point I gave up.