Fauna Nest Boxes

A range of native animals require the natural hollows that develop in trees, for shelter and/or breeding. Many hollows are in the trunk and branches of trees but some hollows are also closer to the ground and they too provide shelter and protection. Hollow logs on the ground are important for ground dwellers.

Tree hollows take a long time (70 years or more years) to develop to be a suitable size for use by some larger fauna.

It is a slow process by fungi attack, termites, fire and/or wind damage.

If you are going to make your own or buy ready-made ones then there are a number of things to consider. See our link below for tips. DON'T use hollow logs for nest boxes as, natural hollows are valuable resources for wildlife and should be left in place on a tree or on the ground. 60% of mammals and about 15% of birds need hollows to breed. Where possible retain trees with natural hollows in your garden, think about just reducing the height of a dead structurally sound tree rather than removing it.

phascogale or antechinus box

a bat box

pardolote nesting box

natural hollow

Before you build or buy

Before you consider installing a nest box find out what fauna may be in your local area. Like us many animals have very particular requirements when they are seeking a home. Some species are more in need of hollows than others. Try making and installing a box for Feather tail gliders, Crimson rosellas, phascogales (which also suit antechinus), microbats and sugar gliders. You may need a brush tail possum box if possums are living in your roof and you want to rehouse them.

Many animals like bats use more than one hollow and regularly change hollows. This helps keep their hollows clean and free of parasites or diseases or confuse predators.

We may add nest boxes into our garden to help provide homes for fauna. There are nest box patterns available so you can make your own, or give to someone who can, or buy them already made.

The size and position of the entrance hole is very important and needs to be

· at the side for animals

· and the front for birds

· and back for feather tail gliders

· and bottom for bats

· add a length of shade cloth or old jeans in a bat box to give them something to hold onto

· don’t forget to cut some grooves inside the box to allow the young birds and fauna to get out

make sure you can reach the box to do maintenance

sugar gliders line their nest with leaves

a baffle may keep unwated myna out

some boxes are decorative only and not useful for fauna

Extra Tips

  • There is no wrong time to add a nest box unless you live in a place with lots of hollows

  • In some areas there are so few hollows there is strong competition so nestboxes are needed

  • Painting may add extra life to a box but make sure it is non toxic as some fauna like to chew the wood

  • Aspect is important as animals are in there for a long period, so attach the box where it is shaded by the trunk in summer - put it on the south east side of a tree

  • Parrots only use boxes in the spring so aspect not as important but it may also be used by possums

  • Have 2 bat boxes for microbats put one on SE and one on NE of a tree as they can tolerate a range of temperatures

Monitoring nest boxes

If you put up a nest box then you have an ongoing responsibility to check the box at least twice a year. Make sure the box is secure and not falling apart, that there are no dead bodies in the box. It may be necessary to add some dry potting mix or leaf litter to the bottom of the box to stop the eggs rolling about.

Many animals bring in their own material, sugar gliders use green leaves. Bees may invade boxes - don’t use carpet under to lid as some suggest, singe/lightly burn the underside of the lid for 5 minutes and this will act as a better deterrent. A baffle in front of the entrance may assist in keeping mynas out. A well-constructed and maintained box should last about 20 years.

Buying nest boxes

Not everyone has the time, equipment or room to build nest boxes. If you have a nest box plan try your local Men’s Shed (Men’s Shed’s finder) and they may be able to build and sell you a box. Otherwise you may purchase ready-made boxes from people who have a lot of experience in building them and may also install them for you. The cost of boxes range from $85 - $250 with the larger ones being for powerful owls.

Wildlife Nestboxes

La Trobe University Nestboxes


A general guide to the use of nestboxes

Nestboxes patterns – a guide from Federation University Ballarat

List of smaller local fauna that may use a nest box or platform

Australian Owlet Nightjar

Boobook Owls

Crimson Rosellas

Grey Shrike-thrush

Musk or Purple-crowned Lorikeet


Rainbow Lorikeet

Welcome Swallow

White-throated Treecreeper


Bats (insectivorous)

Brush-tailed Phascogale

Common Brushtail Possum

Common Ringtail Possum

Feathertail Glider

Sugar Glider

What fauna is in my garden?

Sometimes we don’t really know what visits our garden, especially at night. Consider buying a fauna camera to set up in the garden. The Moorabool Landcare Network have produced a handy guide about setting up and placing the camera. link

Placing cameras near a bird bath will give lots of photos of birds but may also show possums, sugar gliders and the occasional echidna. It will also show if there are cats, rabbits or foxes visiting at night.

Fact sheets about some of Victoria’s mammals

Sugar Gliders