Bat house

My buddy and I spent a Sunday in the garage making a bat house. This is a lot like a bird house, except the objective is to attract flying mammals, not avians. Bats are getting crowded out by development, and many bat species are listed as endangered. We are doing our small part to save these species by turning the sides of our houses into homes for bats. While protecting bats from extinction is putatively good, there are perks: They dine on mosquitoes :-)

What follows are some construction notes, should anyone like to follow in our footsteps and expand the habitats available to bats.

We worked off the Bat World bat house plans. We modified the width to be 24" instead of 30", but otherwise the plan is the same. (Replace the partition width with 23" as well.)

The first one we built was with 3/4" ply, and doesn't have a center partition, just a 1" cavity. The second used 1/2" ply and does have the center partition.

2' x 4' 1/2" plywood
fiberglass screening
spare ply for center partition
saw horse
liquid nails glue
outdoor wood glue
1/2" finishing nails
1/4" brad nails
wood putty
circular saw
jig saw
sand paper (120 and 320)
bungee cord (trust me)

Label everything as you go. Front, back, side, top, bottom, and even the angles (15° and 30°). It will save you from the mistake that we made on the first one.

Cut the pieces in the following order:
23" from at 15° (gives back)
10" from last cut at 15° (gives front. Make sure you have a trapezoid!)
2 1/2" from last cut at 30° (gives top. Make sure you have a parallelogram!)
1 1/2" from last cut at 30° (gives bottom. Make sure you have a parallelogram!)

To cut the sides, hold the front, top, and bottom over the piece of plywood, using a factory edge as the "back". Trace out the outline of the trapezoid, and go over the lines afterwards with a straight edge. Cut it out, then trace it onto another piece of plywood. Cut that one as well.

To put the airholes in the sides, we used a 1/4" drill bit in the press, and punched about 5 holes.

We made the center partition from 1/4" scrap wood.

To assemble, hold the top and sides to the back and mark lines where they will be. Apply a thin layer of liquid nails to the sides and position them, then do the same with the top.

Using a 3/4" board as a spacer, position the partition in place with liquid nails.

Attach the front in the same manner. Then put the C-clamps in each corner to pull everything together. Run the bungee cord around the perimeter to hold the top flush.

Attach the bottom with liquid nails, using spacers to hold it up.

Use the finishing nails around all the attached pieces to help hold it together while the glue dries. Use putty to fill the holes.

After everything has dried, sand around the box, then fill any air spaces with wood glue.

Attach the fiberglass screening to the landing area with 1/4" brad nails.

That's it! You've now got one homemade bat house. Hang it up at least fifteen feet from the ground. With any luck, you'll have flying rodents roosting in no time.



At 5/24/07, 3:00 PM, Blogger Les said...

This is moot in my life now, but for a long time, I was torn about bat houses. On the one hand, you can help save the earth and all that. But on the other hand RABIES!!! When I was a kid, my parents got me a book called "The Power of Believing in Yourself" or some such thing about how Pasteur came up with shots for rabies and it was a very inspiring story about how he came up with the idea of germs and blah blah blah, but what I got from it is a dread fear of rabies, which is usually carried by bats.

So I guess if I got a rabies shot first, I might put up a bat house.

At 8/20/07, 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to alleviate some of your readers's fears, it's just like any other wild animal - if it looks sick, it probably is, so don't touch it. If a bat is on the ground, it's probably not well - leave it alone, and you won't get rabies. Bats don't carry rabies any more often than other rodents. And the odds of them "attacking" you from the air are slim.


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