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Going Batty - How To Build A Bat House

Posted by Whitneydroden | Added on : September 24, 2012 1:36pm | Last edited: December 30, 2012 7:04pm | Viewed 2285 times | 0 Comments


Going Batty

When I suggested writing this article to my family a few of them asked me why…Why would you want to encourage bats to roost on your property; well the answer to that is simple, bats are extremely beneficial, gentle, and shy creatures that help us cut down on insects such as beetles, gnats, mosquitoes, flies and cockroaches, as well as many more. In fact a single bat can eat 600 or more insects in one hour and without their natural pest control tons of pests would be left to spread disease and destroy crops. Certain seeds won’t even sprout unless they have passed through the digestive tract of a bat.

Millions of seeds are spread by fruit bats every year from the ripe fruit that they consume. 95% of the tropical rainforests reforestation is a direct result from the seed dispersal of bats! Also, like honey bees some species even pollinate plants such as bananas, peaches, figs, dates, mangos and avocados. It is believed that these plants would not survive without the bats that feed on their pollen and nectar. Bat in the Bat House

Another way bats are useful is their waste, also known as guano. This excrement is so rich in nutrients that it is actually harvested to make the world’s best fertilizer. The chemicals from guano are also used to make ladies cosmetics (and guys before you laugh at your wives and girlfriends about this I would like to give you the sobering thought that you are kissing said bat poop!), laundry detergent and certain gun powders.

Now that we are done with the reasons why they are helpful let us move on to the fun facts for a moment before we begin our project.
1) A bat’s echolocation is so sensitive that they are able to detect an object as fine as a strand of hair or the footsteps of an insect.
2) Bats are very slow to reproduce, in fact most species have a built in delay in their reproductive systems so that they will only have their pups at peak times so there will be plenty of food for the mothers to thrive on.
3) Mothers normally only give birth to 1 or 2 pups in a year and typically nurse their young for 6 months and coo to their pups to soothe them as a human mother does with her baby.
4) Sometimes pups can stay in a nursery (or large group of pups) that contain millions of other pups but a mother bat can locate her own by its cry and scent.

Bats in the Bat House

Because of our folklore and superstitions, bats are often thought to be spooky and evil; associated with vampires and witches making people scared of them when in reality they are some of the most helpful creatures on the planet. I hope that this article has helped to educate you on bats and the truth about them and has you ready to help protect this vital creature by making your very own bat house.

First Things First!
You are going to need:
Safety goggles
1⁄4 sheet (2' x 4')
1⁄2" AC, BC or T1-11 (outdoor grade) plywood
One piece 1" x 2" (3⁄4" x 1 1⁄2" finished) x 8' pine (furring strip)
20 to 30 exterior-grade screws, 1"
One pint dark, water-based stain, exterior grade
One pint water-based primer, exterior grade
One quart flat, water-based paint or stain, exterior grade
One tube paintable latex caulk
1" x 4" x 28" board for roof (optional, but highly recommended)
Black asphalt shingles or galvanized metal (optional)
6 to10 roofing nails, 7⁄8 "(if using shingles or metal roofing)
Recommended tools
Table saw or handsaw
Caulking gun
Variable-speed reversing drill
Paint brushes
Tape measure or yard stick
Tin Snips (optional)

As you may have guessed by now I do not recommend this project for kids without adult supervision and always remember the 2 golden rules.
1) Measure twice cut once
2) Always wear your safety goggles when using a table/circular saw and keep your appendages out of the way!!

Bat House
The Next Step
1. Measure and cut plywood into three pieces: 26 1⁄2" x 24", 16 1⁄2" x 24", & 5" x 24"
2. Roughen inside of backboard and landing area by cutting horizontal grooves with sharp object or saw; Space grooves 1⁄4"to 1⁄2" apart, cutting 1⁄32" to 1⁄16" deep.
3. Apply two coats of dark, water-based stain to interior surfaces. Do not use paint, as it will fill grooves and also could be harmful to the bats.
4. Cut furring strip into one 24" and two 20 1⁄2" pieces.
5. Attach furring strips to back, caulking first. Start with 24" piece at top. Roost chamber spacing is 3⁄4".
6. Attach front to furring strips, top piece first (caulk first). Leave 1⁄2" vent space between top and bottom front pieces.
7. Caulk all outside joints to further seal roost chamber.
8. Attach a 1" x 4" x 28" board to the top as a roof (optional, but highly recommended).
9. Apply three coats of paint or stain to the exterior (use primer for first coat) if you use paint on outside and you are in a cooler region use a darker shade of paint so the bat house will be warm (always use non-toxic paint!!!
10. Cover roof with shingles or galvanized metal (optional).
11. Mount on building (south or east sides usually best).

And voila! The bat cave is ready for Bruce, Barbra, Dick, and Alfred!

Article By: Whitney Roden
Pictures of Bats Courtesy Johnnie Alexander (my grandfather)



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