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How to build a bat box

Bats make up nearly a fifth of our mammal species. But despite this, bats have significantly declined in the UK as their habitat, roosts and food supplies are disturbed or destroyed by building and development. That’s why we’re funding research into how we can best protect them, and you can help them too.

A bat box is an artificial roost which is hugely beneficial to bats, offering them a safe place to live when suitable roosting sites are limited. You can either buy one from your local garden centre or build a bat box yourself.

You will need

  • Untreated, rough cut wood
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Saw, hammer, drill
  • Nails or wood glue
  • Ladder
  • Screws or adjustable ties
Pipistrelle bat. Image credit Artsiom Malanshenko

Build your bat box

  1. Choose where you want to place your box. This could be on the trunk of a nearby tree or under the eaves of your house. Ensure you place it at least 3 metres from the ground, away from artificial light and in a position that bats can easily fly into.
  2. Get your rough cut, untreated plank of wood (i.e. wood that hasn’t been treated with chemicals) which should be around 1.1m long, 15cm wide and 1.5cm thick to make the whole box. You can often get your wood from visiting a saw yard.
  3. If your wood feels smooth, run the sharp end of your saw across the top to roughen it up and cut 1mm deep slit every 10mm. This helps bats to get a good grip as they cling to the wood.
  4. Outline your box dimensions using a tapemeasure and pencil to suit your chosen position, and then cut the wood using your saw. Generally, the back of the box should be approximately 40cm x 15cm, the front 15cm x 15cm, the roof 20cm x 15cm, the sides 15cm x 15cm and the base 18cm x 15cm, which leaves a 2cm wide entrance gap.
  5. Next, assemble your box using wood glue or nails so that it looks similar to that in the photos. Start by gluing/nailing the sides onto the back of your box and then add the front, roof and base.
  6. To put up your box, drill holes into the back of your box (at the top and bottom) and use screws or plugs to fix it to a wall. If attaching to a tree, use adjustable ties to avoid damaging the tree. Be careful when using a ladder and get someone to hold it whilst putting up your box.
  7. Remember, all bat species are protected by law and it’s important not to disturb the box once you’ve put it up, unless it’s being cleaned by a licensed ecologist.

Show us your creation!

Take a photo of your bat box and submit it below, or post on social media and inspire others to do the same!

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