One of the major attractions of gardening for me is seeing what wildlife your efforts can bring into the garden. One way to increase the wildlife diversity in the garden though is to provide roosts or safe havens for them.
If you are fortunate enough to have bats frequenting your garden or allotment then why not provide a roosting box or resting place for them. If you don’t believe you have bats this may be because the habitat doesn’t provide natural roosting spots such as holes in trees or dry outbuildings so why not try and attract some with this simple design.
It’s a quick and easy design that you can knock up in an hour and even get the kids involved. Be sure to get snug fits on all the joints as good insulation and the avoidance of draughts is essential in attracting bats to boxes. Also use untreated rough cut or sawn timber, the later means it provides something for the bats to cling and climb on and former because bats are very sensitive to timber treatment chemicals
What you will need
- Power drill
- Staple gun or small tacks
- Set square
- Tape Measure
- Jigsaw (optional)
- 120cm x 20cm x 2cm sawn untreated timber plank
- A short piece of wheel inner tube or pond liner
Measure out the plank according to the cutting plan
Cut the sections out using a hand saw. If you have a jigsaw you may find that easier to use when cutting the side diagonal.
Make a bevel cut on one of the roof section. This needs to be approximately 60o and will make a snug fit against the back and provide the correct angle for the front
Using a hand saw cut grooves across the width of the back section and for its full length to create a ‘bat ladder’. This is essential to give the bats something to climb up and hang from.
Cut an 8cm length off the acute angled end of the side pieces to provide easier access to entrance.
Nail the sides on to the back section. You may find it easier to drill pilot holes to reduce the risk of the wood splitting. Be sure to get them in exactly the same position on each side or it will throw the box out of shape.
Slot the roof section into place and nail it to the side sections. Again drilling pilot holes if necessary to reduce the risk of the wood splitting
Staple or nail the pond liner or inner tube across the joint of the roof to the back section. This will reduce the likelihood of damp or draughts getting into the box
Slide the front section in and nail it in place . There will need to be a ‘door gap’ of between 10-20mm to allow access. Any wider and predation could be a problem, any smaller and the bats may not be able to access the box.
The box should be located close to where you have seen or would see bats, close to the garden pond or near an outside light. It should be positioned as high as possible, sheltered from strong winds but exposed to as much sunlight as possible in order to maintain a good internal temperature. Don’t be disappointed if the bats don’t take as readily to your box as perhaps the birds or insects have done to the other artificial roosts, they do so less readily, however after having a box up for three years, this summer I’ve been regularly treated to a small hunting party of pipistrelle’s emerging for an dusk feast.