Support for PBS Parents provided by:


  • Cat in the Hat
  • Curious George
  • Daniel Tiger
  • Dinosaur Train
  • Peg + Cat
  • Sid the Science Kid
  • Super Why!
  • Wild Kratts
  • Martha Speaks
  • The Electric Company
  • WordGirl
  • Thomas & Friends
  • Cyberchase
  • Arthur
  • Sesame Street
  • Between the Lions
  • Mama Mirabelle
  • Caillou
  • Chuck Vanderchuck
  • Oh Noah
  • Fetch!
  • Fizzy's Lunch Lab
  • Maya & Miguel
  • Mister Rogers
  • Postcards from Buster
  • Clifford
  • SciGirls
  • Wilson & Ditch
  • WordWorld
  • DragonFly TV
  • ZOOM
Wild Kratts

Building Homes for Bats

Build a bat box and learn about the little brown bat.

Overview

In this activity, you and your child will build a bat box and learn about the habitat preferences and shelter needs of the little brown bat. After building bat house your child can use the criteria for good bat house placement to choose the best spot for their bat house(s).

This activity is particularly timely as bats need our help right now! They are experiencing large population declines due to a fungus. For more information about this fungus, visit Batcon.org.

Skills: Construction and following plans, observation, planning

What to Do

Building a bat house

Bats don’t always live in caves and abandoned mines. In colder regions, bats spend winter months in caves and abandoned mines to hibernate through the winter (these are called hibernaculums), but in the spring and summer bats spend their time in trees, under bridges, and in old buildings where they give birth and rear young. Bats love tight spaces to crowd in and use their combined body heat to keep warm. There are several factors that make a good summer home for a bat, and it starts with the building of the bat house!

What you need:

There are several commercial bat house kits (also called bat box) available that contain pre-cut wood and only require assembly. These are certainly an option for a home project and can be found from many sources. As well, it is possible to make a bat house from scratch. Both options are outlined in this section.

Detailed instructions on building a bat house from scratch can be found at the end of this activity sheet.

Not all commercial bat house kits are the same. Often the less expensive kits are actually only decorative and at the very least would be unusable by bats. If choosing a commercially available bat house kit, be sure to purchase one that is certified by Bat Conservation International here.

Bat Conservation International also publishes The Bat House Builder’s Handbook, which includes the most recent bat-house research data and up to date bat box designs and tips for success. This book is available on their website here.

Note that for all options your child will need to be closely supervised as the use of hammers, nails, screwdrivers, and screws are necessary. For some options a saw may also be needed. It is recommended that an adult supervise each bat house being built.

Once you and your child have successfully built a bat house you will need to decide where to place it. The following criteria are important to keep in mind: (adapted from Bat Conservation International bat house criteria sheet)

    1. Sun exposure: Bat houses where high temperatures average 80° F (27º C) should received at least 10 hours of direct sunlight and more is better. At least six hours of direct sun is recommended for all bat houses where July’s daily highs are between 80° F and 100º F (27º C and 38º C). To create favorable conditions for maternity colonies in the summer, internal bat-house temperatures should stay between 80° F and 100º F as long as possible.
    2. The greatest bat house success has been achieved in areas of diverse habitat, especially where there is a mixture of varied agricultural use and natural vegetation. Placement should be within ¼ mile of water (preferably a stream, river, or lake).
    3. Bat houses should be mounted on buildings or poles. Houses mounted on trees or metal siding are less used. Wood, brick or stone buildings with proper solar exposure are excellent choices, and houses mounted under eaves are often successful. Mounting two bat houses back to back on poles is one option that is ideal. Houses should be placed ¾ inch apart and cover both with a galvanized metal roof to protect the centre roosting space from rain. Bat houses should be mounted at least 12 hours above ground, and 15 to 20 feet is better. The house should not be in a location where it is lit by bright lights.
  • Houses mounted on the sides of buildings or on metal poles provide the best protection from predators. Bats may find houses more quickly if they are located along forest or water edges where bats tend to fly. However they should be placed far from tree branches or other perches where aerial predators can land.
  • Open-bottom houses greatly reduce problems with birds, mice, squirrels or parasites entering the house, and guano (bat excrement) does not accumulate inside. If wasps nests accumulate, they should be removed in late winter or early spring.
  • Bat houses can be installed any time of the year.

  • Take It Further

    A bat’s favorite food

    There are over 1100 species of bats in the world and they eat all sorts of different food! About 367 species eat fruit, 11 species are considered carnivorous and more than 722 species eat insects!

    Have your child make 3 posters with pictures of each food group (fruits to represent the diet of fruit eating bats, cows, horses and sheep to represent the diet of the carnivorous bats, and mosquitoes and moths to represent the insect eaters). You and your child can use online sources and books (example: Bats of the World by Gary L. Graham, or Walker’s Bats of the World, by Ronald M. Nowak) to try to find as many bat species as you can that eat each type of food.


    More Ways to Discover and Learn

    Go on an Adventure!

    Organize a bat outing! There are many options available for visiting a bat viewing site. Bat Conservation International publishes a map of bat viewing locations around the world that can be found here. In addition, your local zoo or university biology department may have information on where to safely view bats locally.

    When organizing such an outing it’s important to always have an expert guide in attendance who has experience with the location and to follow all safety guidelines as published locally. This is important for both the safety of you and your child, but also for the safety of the bat colony you are viewing.

    Bring a notebook and pencil to write down observations during the visit. For example, to record the number of bats, if there were multiple species, if there were any mothers and pups and if they saw any bats catching and eating insects.

    Literacy Connection
    Have your child choose their favorite bat species from the ones you saw on the outing (or from the posters they made of the different diets of bats) and create a guide book entry for them including:

    • A picture
    • The common name and scientific name
    • Information about:
      • range: what part of the world it lives in
      • habitat: what habitat it lives in (forest, caves, near water)
      • diet: what is the bat species favorite food
      • special feature: does the bat have any special features?

    Once they have completed their entry, place them in a binder encourage your child to add entries to the bat “guide book” as they learn about new and interesting kinds of bats!

    New Word
    Hibernaculum: A mine or cave where bats who live in colder climates spend the winter hibernating together in large groups.


    Look in a Book

    Use these books to help children learn about little brown bats which are among the most common in North America:

    Shadows Of Night: The Hidden World of the Little Brown Bat
    by Barbara Bash. Gibbs Smith, 2004.

    Beatrice La Bat
    By Harla H. Robertson. Tate Publishing, 2011.

    Boo, the Little Brown Bat
    By Paula Pifer. Purpose Life Publishing, 2006.

    Resources for Parents

    All about bats: Batcon.org

    Little brown bats: BioKids

    Amazing bats of Braken Cave: National Geographic 



You May Also Like

  • Marlea Seatter

    Hi Martin and Chris. My name is Marlea. I love your shows. I was wondering if you could help me with my animal report. I am doing a Basalisk. Hope to hear from you soon.

    Marlea Seatter

  • christ

    i love wild kratts and i am 10.

    • angel hess

      i love the kratt brothers . i want to go to canada so i can see them

      • christ

        Sorry. Your message could not be delivered to:

        21cgeffrard,Cambridge (The name was not found at the remote site. Check that the name has been entered correctly.)

  • christ

    i wish chris and mantin had manatee powers.

  • Kristine Jenkins

    Ditto the manatees! Love the new ‘wild kratt kids’ section, that add activities we can do at home. Thanks, Chris and Martin!

  • christ

    how can i grow a slug farm.

  • Jay

    Your links to the bat boxes are broken! We’ve been looking to build a bat box for sometime and your show rekindled that desire. Would love to see the plans, however the links are broken.

  • Mollie, Brody and Eli

    I can’t get the bat box instructions?!?!

Produced by:   Funding is provided by:
Kratt Brothers 9 Story    Bell Fund logo The Ontario Media Development Corporation Chuck E Cheese logo  
Wild Kratts is a Kratt Brothers Company / 9 Story Entertainment production. © 2010-2012 1757712 Ontario Inc.

What's this?

PBS Parents Picks

  1. What's for Lunch? image

    What's for Lunch?

    Try Applegate's HALF TIME, a new natural & organic lunch kit!


  2. Daniel Tiger Finger Puppet image

    Daniel Tiger Finger Puppet

    Need a cool craft for your child's Daniel Tiger party? Try this fun finger puppet!


  3. Hispanic Heritage Month  image

    Hispanic Heritage Month

    Make fun crafts and recipes while learning about influential Latinos.


PBS Parents Newsletter

Find activities, parenting tips, games from your child's favorite PBS KIDS programs and more.

×