Build Own house plans
Little brown myotis using a bat house. Credit: Mark and Selena Kiser
Building your own bat house is a great way to get involved in bat conservation. Bat species worldwide are experiencing habitat loss, and building an artificial roost can give our bat friends a safe and comfortable place to live. Here on our website we have designs for three different types of roosts - single chamber, four-chamber, and rocket boxes. Volunteers with BCI’s Bat House Research Project (1993-2004) conducted research on hundreds of bat houses and other artificial roosts, and the designs linked on this page incorporate the most successful features identified in those tests. These bat houses are designed to accommodate 14 different species of North American bats.
The correct bat house for you depends on available tools and lumber, your skill as a carpenter, your budget and your expectations. You can, of course, modify your bat house to adjust for location-specific factors, such as climate and the preferences of local species.
The most successful bat houses have roost chambers at least 20 inches tall and at least 14 inches wide. Taller and wider houses are even better. Rocket boxes, a pole-mounted design with continuous, 360°chambers, should be at least 3 feet tall (see Figure 6 on page 14 of the Bat House Builders Handbook). All houses should have 3- to 6-inch landing areas extending below the entrances or recessed partitions with landing space inside.
The number of roosting chambers is not critical, but in general, the more chambers the better. Single-chambered houses should be mounted on wooden or masonry buildings, which helps to buffer temperature fluctuations. Houses with at least three chambers are more likely to provide appropriate ranges of temperature and better accommodate the larger numbers of bats typical of nursery colonies. Two single-chamber houses can be mounted back-to-back on two poles to create a three-chamber bat house.
Jadyn, 10 years old, proved herself a very
capable woodworker (with a little help from her
grandpa). Credit: Woodworkers Guild of America
Building a bat house Credit: Janet Tyburec
For single-chamber and nursery houses (Figures 3 to 5), 1⁄2-inch (or thicker) exterior plywood is ideal for fronts, backs and roofs, while 1- or 2-inch-thick boards are best for the sides. One-inch (3⁄4-inch nominal size) cedar or poplar lumber is recommended for rocket boxes. Roofs for any roost type can be built of 3⁄4-inch exterior plywood to increase longevity. Cover roofs with shingles or metal for extra protection. Plywood should have a minimum of four plies for durability. Using 3⁄8-inch plywood for roosting partitions reduces weight and allows more roosting space for a given house size.
Pressure-treated wood contains chemicals that may be toxic to bats and should be used only if sealed by painting. Alternative materials, such as plastic or fiber-cement board, may last longer than wood and require less maintenance.