Bats are nocturnal, flying at night to catch insects like mosquitoes and midges. During the day they roost in quiet, out-of the way spaces such as caves, tree holes and the gaps beneath bark on old trees. They may also roost in man-made structures such as the roofs of houses and beneath roof tiles, or in bridges and tunnels.
Sadly, the availability of bat roosts is declining. Our roof spaces are being sealed up due to home improvements, while our gardens tend to have fewer old trees than are found in the wild. It’s therefore important to replicate these dwindling habitats by erecting bat boxes, which mimic the natural roost sites bats would normally choose.
Bats use different roosts at different times of the year. Female bats gather together in summer to form a maternity roost, where they give birth and suckle their young. These tend to be warm and dry, compared to the cool, constant temperatures of winter roosts, which bats use for hibernation.
By erecting bat boxes in several locations of your garden, including the outer walls of your house, you will provide additional supplementary habitat for these mammals at different times of year.
More on creating habitats for wildlife:
What to look for in a bat box
Bat boxes usually have narrow slits that bats can crawl into. They need to be draught free, as bats won’t use them if they’re draughty. A well-insulated box will retain its temperature more consistently, and is therefore more likely to attract bats.
There are several designs to choose from. Wooden bat boxes are usually box-shaped or flat, with a grooved ‘bat ladder’ and a slit at the bottom, for access. They should be made with untreated wood and have a rough texture inside, such as rough-sawn timber, which the bats can cling on to.
Woodcrete bat boxes, which are made from wood fibres mixed with concrete, are becoming popular as they are long lasting and durable.
Locate your bat box at least 4m off the ground in a sunny, sheltered location where bats are known to feed, ideally near hedges and tree lines, which bats use to navigate.
10 of the best bat boxes
Browse our list of the best bat boxes, below.
Beaumaris Woodstone Bat Box Maxi
The Beaumaris Bat Box is made from WoodStone, a durable mix of concrete and wood fibres, which provides a draught-proof space that maintains an even temperature. It’s also what gives it its lifetime warranty. This design has a rough interior to enable bats to cling.
Wildlife World Conservation Bat Box
Made using FSC timber, the Conservation Bat Box has two vertical chambers with a grooved ladder which enables bats to climb in and cling. The roof is sloping to keep the box dry. It has a natural finish with just the front panel painted in a water-based paint.
Large Bat Box
This budget bat box is designed to be draught proof and weatherproof. It features a fixed bark roof, untreated wood, grooved ladder and narrow 20mm entrance slot.
Buy Large Bat Box from Waitrose Garden (currently out of stock)
Eco Kent Bat Box
The Eco Kent Bat Box is made by Nestbox using FSC wood and features two internal crevices, ideal for common bats species such as pipistrelles. Inside the wood is roughly sawn to give bats a good grip.
National Trust Wildlife World Stourhead Range Bat Box
This sturdy bat box has a grooved entrance ladder and rough edges inside to enable bats to cling while roosting. Made from FSC Certified timber.
Ecostyrocrete Three Crevice Bat Box
Ecostyrocrete is made using recycled polystyrene mixed with cement. It’s a durable, long-lasting material that’s perfect for making insulated, draught-proof wildlife habitats. This handmade bat box features three crevices for roosting bats, and can be tailored to be fixed to a tree or wall.
Harlech Woodstone Bat Box
Long-lasting woodcrete ensures a well-insulated and draught-free space for roosting bats. Guaranteed for 10 years.
Eco Bat Shelter
The Eco Bat Shelter by Nestbox is designed to be installed within buildings. The wedge-shaped crevice provides the perfect winter hibernation roost. It has a plastic outer shell for thermal insulation and a ceramic insert that stabilises the internal temperature and provides a rough surface for bats to cling on to.
Almodovar Wooden Bat Box
This large, black box is designed to host a greater number of bats of different species, including brown long-eared bats. It has two two sections with grooved internal ladders that bats can cling on to.
Chillon Woodstone Bat Box
This woodstone bat box can house up to 15 pipistrelle bats at a time. It has a textured ‘landing ramp’ to enable bats to cling on easily. Being made from woodstone, this box is durable, draught-free and long lasting, and is guaranteed for 10 years.