Gardening australia – fact sheet: building a bat box
Presenter: Josh Byrne, 23/07/2011
There are lots of species that are beginning to enjoy Josh’s garden – birds, reptiles and insects and now he makes a home for one of the cutest and possibly most enigmatic of visitors – microbats.
Even though they number about a quarter of all the mammals in Australia, most people would never have seen one. They’re really tiny – some only the size of a matchbox and weighing as little as three grams.
One of the reasons Josh wants them is because microbats eat insects. In fact, just one microbat can eat up to 1200 mosquitoes in an hour. The trouble is, some species are endangered because they sleep in tree hollows which are becoming scarce, so Josh is building a roosting box.
Note: pieces can be cut from a single plank of timber 150mm x 1340mm x 30mm
Method Firstly, mount the two timber spacers on the back of the backing board.
Screw the side boards into the back board with self-tapping wood screws.
Line the inside with shadecloth, fixing it in place with staples.
Screw the baseboard on so that there is a gap towards the rear of the box. The gap should be between 15mm – 20mm wide to allow for the microbats to access the inside. It’s important that the gap isn’t too large, otherwise birds can come in and displace the bats and take the space over as a nest of their own.
Screw on the front board
Screw the lid on. Importantly there should be a bit of an overhang to keep the box draught free and dry.
Screw in the eye bolts, thread through the washing line wire to hang the box.
Paint with a natural waterproofing oil
Hang from a tree or mount vertically against a tree. Make sure the box is at least 2.5 – 3mt above the ground, to keep the bats inside safe from predators. The box should be in a sunny position – whilst the bats inside like the darkness, they also like the warmth. Make sure it is sheltered by the tree canopy, but also that there is a clear flight path to the box.
Once the roosting box has been installed, it’s a game of patience and it’s important not to disturb it so you don’t scare away any potential visitors.
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