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Bat Box for Babies

Now that we’ve excluded the bats from our home, we need to give them some new housing. We wanted to get it done before maternity season. But it’s been triple digit heat for 4 weeks, so I could only work on it a couple of hours a day.

There are many plans available online. I chose the Four-chamber Nursery House from The Bat House Builder’s Handbook. You can make two houses out of 1/2 sheet of 1/2-inch plywood, 1/2 sheet of 3/8-inch plywood, and 2 pieces of 1x6x8 pine or cedar. If you don’t have the tools to cut the wood yourself, or you don’t trust your ability, many lumber yards and big-box home improvement stores will make the cuts for you, for a small fee. I’m lucky to have a husband that does all that stuff, so I asked him to help. Here are all the pieces, all cut out.

I think the hardest part of cutting it is the bevel. I can’t imagine doing this without a table saw.

We cut horizontal grooves on the interior and landing surfaces, so the bats can grab hold. The instructions said you can do it with a sharp object or a saw, so I chose to use a screwdriver, since I’m not very handy with a saw. But that took a long time, and they didn’t look very good. So my husband, Robbie, did it on the table saw. He did the cutting and I handed him pieces, and we whipped through all of it in no time, and the cuts were beautiful.

The partitions need holes so the bats can pass through from one cubby to another, the sides need a slot for a vent, and since we’re putting 2 houses back-to-back, we need a slot in the back of each, so they can go from one house to the other.

To make the slot (or the side vent), the easy way is to drill two 1/2-inch holes the correct distance apart. Cut between the holes, then cut from the hole to the edge of the board.

Now we can assemble it. Put caulk on the side pieces and fasten to the back panel with screws. The back is longer than the rest, and should be several inches below the rest of the house. Next, attach the spacers to the inside corners from the back, screwing through the back panel and into the spacers. Place one of the partitions on the spacers and put spacers on top of that. Screw through the spacer and partition, into the spacer below. It will look like this.

Continue with the remaining partitions and spacers, ending with the 20-inch spacers. Each partition will sit lower and lower at the same angle as the top of the side. Here it is, ready for the front piece.

The front piece consists of two pieces, to allow for a vent in the front. Put caulk around the edges of the sides and attach front pieces. Put top piece on first, lining it up with the lowest point of the angle. Leave 1/2 inch vent space between the top and bottom pieces. We used a 1/2-inch board to line up the bottom piece with the correct spacing.

Attach spacers to the top inside of front and back as roof supports. Caulk all around the top surface, and attach roof with screws. We put 2 houses back-to-back, joining them with 1×4 pieces of wood, so we left 3/4 inch between the front and back, and put the roof over them both. Here are the two houses back-to-back, without the roof yet.

Above, we’re checking to see if the roof fits, and below shows the caulking. We put it on really thick like this, so it oozes out. Then we wipe off the excess. That way we know it’s completely sealed.

Bats like high places, so the house should be 15-20 feet from the ground. We decided galvanized steel poles would be best, because this is a lot heavier than we thought it would be. We bought two 1-1/2-inch x 10-foot poles and two 1-inch x 10-foot poles. We slid the smaller pole into the larger pole, and then welded them together. We put caps on both ends so no water could get in.

We fastened each pole to a 2×6 with U-bolts, and then fastened the 2×6 to the sides of the bat house. A little paint to protect them and for aesthetic purposes, and we’re all set.

After considering no less than 5 different locations, we finally decided to put them up at the end of the chicken coops. A little coop reinforcement, a couple of more U-bolts, and we now have our Bat Box for Babies. This should be able to accommodate about 1,000 bats.

How did we get it up there??? You can see the rope that we fastened onto it. I climbed on top of the chicken coop and pulled on the rope while Robbie and our son Tommy ‘walked’ it up. They started by lifting the bat house up as high as they could. Then they used a long wood pole to push it up farther, and walked forward with it, until they could go no further. I pulled it up the rest of the way. The legs are in the ground, with cement around them, and the poles are fastened to the side of the chicken coop with U-bolts.

Here it is, completely finished.

Final update: A week later, the bats had already found it!

Published on Jul 15, 2016

Grit Magazine

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