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How to Attract Bats to Your Garden

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 1 Jul 2018 | comments*Discuss
Bats In Garden Attracting Bats To Garden

Whether it’s because of Halloween or Dracula to many people, bats have obtained an unjust reputation as creatures which attack people, get tangled in their hair and are virulent carriers of rabies, all of which are simply not true. The first two statements are a myth and, as for the latter, they carry no more of an additional threat of rabies than any other average mammal. In fact, bats are very useful creatures to attract into your garden by acting as natural pest control eating many species of flying insects.

So, if we want to keep insects at bay organically and find the allure of bats to the garden tempting, how can we attract them?

Bat Boxes
In the same manner as all mammals, bats have a few basic needs – shelter from predators and the elements, warmth and water. You can buy bat boxes online or from a specialist stockist or you can build your own. If you’re doing a search on the internet, these are sometimes called ‘bat houses’. If you decide to construct your own bat box, it should be at least 2 feet tall and contain chambers of at least 20 x 14 inches in size. The bigger it is and the more chambers it has will increase the number of bats which are attracted to it. There should be an opening at the bottom to let the bats fly in and out with enough space for them to land. The interior of the wood you use to construct the box should be rough so that the bats can gain a good foothold. Varnished, dark wood will also help to retain the warmth.

Location of Your Bat Box
This is very important if you want to offer bats a welcoming ‘home’. Bats need water so if you have a pond, that’s ideal. If you don’t however, any bat box should be within half a mile or so of a lake, stream or other regular water supply or bats will simply not take up residence in it. Although bats avoid light, warmth is vital to them and young colonies of bats require a temperature of over 80F during the day. The box should be placed on the side of a house or barn or mounted on poles and should be placed around 15 feet or more off the ground facing in a southerly direction to maximise the amount of sun it will receive daily. Wherever you choose to locate your box, you need to ensure that its construction and location can withstand the worst that the weather can throw at it. However, trees are not suitable locations for bat boxes as they can often also be home to other predators like owls or hawks.

Unlike so many other species of wildlife where you are encouraged to help them in their feeding in some way, bats do not require assistance here as they live predominantly off insects which can be found in every garden. As long as there are any moths, mosquitoes, flying beetles, gnats etc., in fact, any flying insect that ventures out at night, bats will thrive and they can often eat between a quarter to a half of their entire body weight in insects each night. Their droppings make for excellent fertiliser too, benefiting herbs, flowers and vegetables which are an additional reason to want to attract bats.

Bats are highly significant ecologically, so you should look to debunk the myths surrounding bats and offer them a warm welcome into your garden. They might not spot your bat box for quite a while but, once they do move in, they’re extremely loyal to their roost and will return year upon year.

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Annie - Your Question:
I have a very large Canary Island ivy in my back garden. Would bats nest in it if I put a box there? I already have a family of robins that have taken up residence in it!

Our Response:
Would it be high enough? A bat box should really be a minimum of 4.5 metres from the ground. Do you regularly see other wildlife that could be potential predators if the box were placed in the tree? Birds of prey, or even cats (that can climb easily up a tree) can sometimes be a problem with bat boxes placed in tree. If not, and it's high enough, give it a try and let us know how you get on.
WildlifeGardener - 2-Jul-18 @ 11:25 AM
I have a very large Canary Island ivy in my back garden. Would bats nest in it if I put a box there? I already have a family of robins that have taken up residence in it!
Annie - 1-Jul-18 @ 11:37 AM
please can you tell me if the side oof my elderberty trees would be any good to place a bat box? i have 2 trees and my garden is full to burstingbwith blackberry bushes and rose hips ect lots of berry typ shrubs at this time of year i can face it so it gets lits of sun i just think if im goingvto place one or more in my elderberry trees i want to know how to do the job properly for the bats sake id be so greatfull for your help if any one canchelp me in any way id be so greatful thank you
none - 25-Oct-17 @ 4:25 PM
Also,trees are "the best" places to install bat boxes !! Where do you think bats roosted before we gave them house roofs ?
wads - 24-Oct-15 @ 6:35 PM
Sorry but some of your information about bats is completely wrong !! they do not need bat boxes 2ft tall or compartments and do not attract predators in trees ! bats prefer very small spaces usually in hollow branches or small bat boxes where predators find it very difficult to access. Bats are attracted by insects which are attracted to wildflowers etc. They also require water so ponds are good. If you wish to publish facts about bats, a European Protected Species, then please contact your local bat group or the bat conservation trust.
Wads - 24-Oct-15 @ 6:28 PM
We have a bat - just one, but very fast,that seems to be flying around our garden each night just as dusk arrives.It flies around our garden and surrounding gardens in a circle for about 15 mins then disappears.Has been happening for about 3 weeks now.Edinburgh, Gyle,Aug 28th 2015
piglet - 28-Aug-15 @ 8:56 PM
its the 13th april 2015 and earlier this evening at about 8:30pm my husband and I saw 3 bats one was small one was medium and the other one was large. This was in our small back garden in a built up area, it was amazing. They flew around for about 20 minutes then they were gone. Is this unusual for the time of year ? Would love to know what species they are as they were different sizes. We live on the outskirts of Bristol on a regular housing estate.
LOU - 13-Apr-15 @ 9:11 PM
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