A home for bats
Lots of us enjoy seeing bats flit across the evening sky and some of us are even lucky enough to have them roosting in our gardens. We can build boxes for them, just as we do for birds.
Apart from being incredible little animals to watch, bats are a valuable part of nature in the UK and can be a very welcome visitor to our gardens.
Sadly though, they’re becoming increasingly rare in the UK. Like so many other animals, a gradual loss of habitat and roost sites, are making numbers decline at an alarming rate. There are things that we can do to help though!
Bats roost in a variety of different places, from holes in trees, to churches and other buildings, to caves, mines and railway or canal tunnels. But as old trees are cut down, buildings disturbed and mines filled in, bats are left with very few natural roost sites.
Making sure our gardens are thriving insect-rich feeding grounds for bats can help a lot, however, just as we do with nestboxes for birds, we can also provide alternative roost sites for bats in the form of bat boxes!
Build a bat box
Putting up a bat box gives these night-time creatures somewhere safe to roost, raise their pups and sleep during the day. Follow the link to your right to build your own!
If building one isn't for you, then there are a range of ready-made boxes available at the RSPB shop. Along with, bat detectors, to help pick out bat calls as they flit across the night sky.
What to look out for
We’re lucky to have 18 species of bat in the UK, but there are three usual suspects that we’re most likely to see in our gardens.
Noctules are the biggest bats in Britain. They have long, narrow wings, and a high and straight flightpath.
Daubenton's bats are medium-sized bats with a white underside. They often fly low over water and use their big feet to scoop insects from the surface.
Pipistrelles are Britain's smallest species of bat, weighing the same as just 10 paperclips! They look much bigger in flight and have a very erratic flightpath. They are the most common bats seen in gardens and the most likely to use our bat boxes.
The importance of bat boxes as a habitat
These nocturnal mammals need safe places to roost in during the day. Bats are becoming increasingly rare. One reason for this is a loss of roost sites as old trees are cut down, mine shafts filled in and caves and tunnels disturbed.
Hanging a bat box in a suitable position can help local populations. Similar to a bird nestbox, but with a slit at the bottom rather than an entrance hole, bat boxes are easy to make and widely available to buy.
Tiny pipistrelles are most likely to use a bat box. Watch them leaving the box at dusk or look for other evidence of their presence, such as small, dry, crumbly droppings below it.
RSPB bat boxes are available from our mail order catalogue and RSPB shops. Or, why not make one yourself? All our wooden bat boxes are made from wood from sustainable sources or carry the FSC logo, ie are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
All bats are protected and should never be disturbed. If you find bats roosting in your loft, contact the Bat Conservation Trust.