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Gardening australia – fact sheet: building a bat box

Home » Backyard Birds & Animals » Bat Boxes »

Presenter: Josh Byrne, 23/07/2011

  • SERIES 22 Episode 24
  • 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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  • Materials 1 x Backboard (350mm x 150mm)
  • 2 x Timber spacers (150mm long)
  • 1 x Baseboard (140mm x 150mm2)
  • 1 x Front board (200mm x 150mm2)
  • 1 x Top / lid (200mm x 150mm2)
  • 2 x Side boards (200mm x 150mm x 250mm x 150mm)
  • Self-tapping wood screws
  • Small piece of shade cloth material (150mm x 200mm2)
  • Staple gun and staples
  • 2 x Eye bolts
  • A length of washing line wire
  • 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.

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    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.

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    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.

    Watch the story

    Information contained in this fact sheet is a summary of material included in the program. If further information is required, please contact your local nursery or garden centre.

    Copyright Restrictions: This fact sheet is for private and domestic information purposes only. It may not be copied, reproduced, sold or used for any other purpose without the express permission of the ABC.

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