For a twist on the classic “bird house” project, our bat house encourages students to discover more about the diversity of the ecosystems around them – the variety of species, niches, and daily (or nightly) animal activities. Students may be interested to research which bat species in B.C. are at risk of extinction due to habitat loss. Bats tend to use small, tight spaces beneath loose pieces of tree bark to raise their young, and a successful bat house design needs to mimic this environment. A narrow, well-sealed, and darkly painted house is an attractive habitat for bat roosting, and will provide a protective, warm space for baby bats. Encourage students to research the best place to install their bat houses; similar to the Mason bee house, correct placement will increase the chances of the house being utilized by the animal species intended. House plans adapted from Bat Conservation International’s single chamber bat box. Download Project
Tools & Materials
- 1 piece of ½” x 24” x 60” exterior plywood
- 1 – 1” x 2” x 72” pine strip
- 30 – #8 x 1” exterior screws (resists corrosion)
- 4 – #8 x 1½” exterior screws (to fasten the roof)
- Exterior grade water-based stain, primer, and paint in a DARK colour
- Paintable latex caulk
- Table saw or portable circular saw
- Handheld drill or drill press
- Drill bits to drill pilot holes for #8 screws.
- #2 Robertson Driver bit
- Caulking gun
- Paint brushes
Cut List: Spacing strips (pine): 1 - ¾” x 1½” x 24” (top), 2 - ¾” x 1½” x 20½” (sides), back wall (½” plywood): 24” wide x 26” high, front panels (½” plywood): Upper panel 16 ½” x 24”, Lower panel 5” x 24”, Roof (½” plywood): 3” x 24” (optional)
Measure, layout and cut the three panels. From your 24”x 60” piece of plywood, cut a piece 26” x 24” (back), 16 ½” x 24” (front top) and 5“x 24” ( front bottom).
Using a scratch awl or nail, scratch horizontal groves, roughly ½” apart, on the back panel (this will create a rough surface for the bats to cling onto).
Apply the dark water-based stain to all inside faces of your wood pieces.
Lay the back panel down, grooved side down. Predrill pilot holes spaces similar to what is shown on the diagram. (½” from the corners and outside edges, approx. 6” apart)
Place the three spacing strips under the back and screw them to the plywood. These pieces should be flush with the outside edge of the plywood. Fasten the top strip first then butt the side pieces up to it. Use #8 - 1” exterior grade screws.
Caulk the inside seam where the strips and the plywood meet. This will help provide for a weather tight / warm interior for the baby bats.
Drill pilot holes in the front pieces according to diagram.
(flip back piece with spacers attached, facing up) Before installing the front pieces, put a bead of caulking on the faces of the front and side strips. (this will also help seal the unit to provide a dry / warm interior).
Fasten the top pieces using 1” exterior screws, leaving a ½” space for ventilation between the bottom and top panel. Make sure plywood is flush with the sides and wipe off any excess caulking with a damp cloth.
Measure, layout and cut the piece for the roof - 3” x 24” (optional)
Caulk the top of the house and screw the roof on using 1½” screws. (seal screws with caulking)
Caulk all outside joints and wipe off excess caulk.
Research the best way to mount your bat house.
Apply your exterior grade primer according to the instructions on the label, and then apply 2 or more coats of your chosen dark exterior paint finish.
- Add roofing shingles or metal roofing to your plywood roof.
- Research how to and make a larger bat house with multiple “rooms”, or a bat house with specific dimensions for a local bat species.
- Type up installation instructions for where to place your bat house and explain why it needs to be facing a specific direction or mounted at a certain height, etc.
- Install an infrared camera so you can watch your bats roosting.
- Make a bat-watching pamphlet that includes how to identify the species in your area that might use your bat house.