How to - Wildlife

Give bats a home in your backyard

These oft-misunderstood creatures need help, especially from gardeners. Here's why you should give them a helping hand

Canadian winters are particularly challeng­­ing to bats, when these mammals are forced to either migrate or hibernate because of low temperatures and lack of insects. Gardeners can help by erecting bat houses.

Whether you choose to buy a ready-to-assemble bat house or build it yourself, where you locate the structure may be the difference between “no room at the inn” and “space for rent.” For instance, the bat house should receive at the very least 10 hours of direct sun daily and be a minimum 4½ metres above the ground (the higher the better, primarily to keep predators away).

Key to the bats’ survival, however, is being left alone. During hibernation, bats slow their metabolism; if they’re disturbed, they’ll expend from 30 to 60 days’ worth of fat reserves, according to the Canadian Wildlife Federation. A few disturbances are enough to kill some species.

Read more in How to and Wildlife

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