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Finding the perfect installation spot for your bat house isn’t easy. Bats are notoriously picky when it comes to finding roosts.
If you’re not careful with your bat house placement, you may never live to see a bat call your bat box home.
But don’t worry, by the end of this guide you’ll know exactly where to hang a bat house for the best chance of attracting bats to your backyard.
If you’re reading this and haven’t yet bought a bat house, check out our guide on buying the best bat house kit. If you already have one, make sure the bat box you have is of high-quality. You want a bat box made with quality material so it lasts more than one season, has the correct dimensions to dissuade predators, and has the correct shape.
Let’s get started learning where to hang a bat house for the best results:
Near a Water Source
Like all creatures, bats require water to live. A colony of bats will usually roost near a natural source of water like a pond, stream, or lake.
If you have a natural source of water within 1,500 feet of your property, you’re in luck and you’ll be able to attract more bats than you could ever imagine. A natural source of water provides two benefits: a source of hydration and a food source since water also attracts insects.
But don’t worry if you don’t live near a natural water source, you can still attract more bats than you think by providing an artificial water source such as a bird bath or fish pond.
In regards to bat house placement, you want to mount the bat box at least 20 feet from the shore of any natural water source.
Avoid the Tree Line
The trees in your backyard will play a big part in determining your bat box placement.
It may be unintuitive, but bats don’t like to be near tree branches. Why not? Well, predators such as owls and hawks live in tree branches. Tree branches also cast shadows which can change the temperature of your bat box.
Being relatively close to a tree line (within 30-50 feet) is a plus, however.
Ideally, you want to install a bat house at least 20 feet from the nearest tree or tree line. You never want to mount the bat house on an actual tree.
Have Some Sun Exposure
Bats like to be warm and prefer the internal temperature of a bat box to be between 80-100 degrees so you should try and hang your bat box where it can receive sunlight for 6 to 8 hours.
Two things determine the internal temperature of a bat box: sun exposure and paint color.
How much sun exposure and what color your bat box should be painted is determined by where you live.
- Zone 1: Less than 85 degrees // direct sunlight for 6 to 8 hours // black or dark shade of paint
- Zone 2: 85-95 degrees // direct sunlight for 6 to 8 hours // dark or medium shade of paint
- Zone 3: 95 – 100 degrees // direct sunlight for 6 to 8 hours // medium or light shade of paint
- Zone 4: 100 degrees or higher // direct sunlight for 6 hours // light shade of paint
Not sure what zone you’re in? Check out the bat zone map below:
To get the best sun exposure and internal temperature, mount your bat house facing SE or SW. Either direction will provide 2-8 hours of direct sunlight, ample enough to warm the bat house to the ideal temperature.
Note: temperature is even more important if you want to attract nesting female bats. Baby bats aren’t as resistant to cold as adult bats.
Ideal Bat House Mounting Height
Bat houses should be mounted 15-20 feet off the ground. This provides enough height to deter ground-dwelling predators such as cats and raccoons. If you can mount the bat box on a 20 foot pole or post, that is ideal.
Mount the Bat House on a Pole or on a Building
As we mentioned earlier, you don’t want to know mount a bat house on a tree or a branch. It’ll provide too much shade and not enough safety from predators.
What does that leave us? The best place to hang a bat house is on a pole or a building. Buildings are less versatile than poles, because, obviously, you can’t move a building to match the ideal bat roosting requirements. But if your house or barn has a mounting area fits all the requirements (15-20ft off the ground, 20 ft from the nearest tree line and water source, and faces south-east or south-west) then go ahead and mount the bat house on your building.
Just make sure you don’t mount it anywhere above a door entrance or patio, near outdoor lights, or air blowing appliances like air conditioners and exhausts.
Since most buildings won’t perfectly match the requirements, we recommend mounting your bat houses on 20 foot poles or posts. They’re easy to move to find the perfect spot and you’ll be able to observe the bats from inside your home.
Where to Hang a Bat House: The Perfect Spot Guidelines
Given what we learned earlier, the perfect place to hang a bat house is:
- Near a water source, but at least 20 feet from the shoreline.
- At least 20 feet away from the nearest tree line or large freestanding tree
- Facing southeast or southwest where it’ll get 6-8 hours of direct sunlight
- 15-20 feet off the ground
- On a pole, post, or building
And you want to avoid these things:
- Mounting the bat box on a tree
- Placing it near heavily trafficked areas
- Placing it near artificial lighting
- Placing it where it’ll be exposed to smoke or bursts of air
How Long Does It Take For Bats to Roost in a Bat House?
Bats are wild animals and even if you find the perfect spot for your bat house, it’s no guarantee that they’ll make it their home.
Ideally, you want to install your bat box in early spring and following all the guidelines above. If you don’t have any roosting bats within the first year, experiment with different placements and sun exposure as temperature regulation is the most common reason for failure to roost.
We don’t recommend checking for bats by shining a light in the bat house. The easiest way to figure out if your bat house is inhabited is to check for bat guano (poop) below the mounting area. Or, wait until sunset and see if any bats come and go from the roost.