Why is my bat box empty?

There are many reasons why bats may choose not to live in a bat box. They are wild animals and, like all wildlife, cannot be totally controlled by humans, or forced to move into a bat house. Current research is increasing our knowledge of the factors that determine whether a bat chooses to live in a roost or not.

  If your bat box is empty it may be because:

  • The bats in the area reside in a nearby safe roost and may decide not to leave their home unless they are excluded from a house roof, for example.

  • The bat house is being disturbed too much, e.g. shining a flashlight into the house every day or during the night to see if bats have moved in. The house should not be checked more than once a fortnight, but the telltale signs of occupancy is a collection of guano on the ground below the box.

  • The bat house is not getting enough sunlight. Shrubs and bushes around the bat house may have grown to such an extent that they prevent sunlight from warming up the bat house. Building a new lapa or other structure in front of the bat house can also block the sunlight, so observe the position of the sun carefully and consider it for all seasons before installing the bat house. Ideally, the bat house should be in a position where it can absorb the north-westerly sun in the late afternoon.

  • Insecticides in the garden or on crops that are poisonous to mammals when taken orally may mean the bats have either died from eating insects contaminated by the chemical or they may have moved to safer grounds. Refrain from using obnoxious insecticides; this will benefit the entire environment.

  • The food source for the bats has decreased. This may happen when insects decline during winter, which is natural, or when large spaces of grassland or bushes have been cleared around the bat house. In both cases, the bats will probably return when their food source returns.

  • Your bat house is too wet or cold inside. This may happen if the bat house is not maintained and rainwater leaks in or the bat house is wrongly positioned. Bats like warm, dry roosts and will move to such a place if their home is too cold and wet. EcoSolutions offers a standard maintenance service with their bat houses.


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