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Bats: Friends or Foes

Mythologies surrounding bats are vast and varied. Many of them are unwarranted and simply erroneous. To begin with, bats are not blind, nor do they ever intentionally get tangled in humans’ hair. They also rarely contract rabies, and guess what folk: they are also not vampires (at least not in the U.S.). In fact, almost anyone who has ever been bitten by bat has done so because they have attempted to pick up a sick or injured bat. If you have a bat problem or infestation, the number one rule to abide by is that bats should never be handled by an amateur of any kind, at any time.

However, if the situation does arise and you cannot contact a skilled wildlife control operator, your best bet is to wear thick leather gloves and use a net, a towel, or a plastic container for capture. Although as previously stated, less than one percent of the bat population carries rabies, it is still a deadly disease. Therefore, if someone does get bitten or scratched, they should be tested immediately.

Here are two other myths debunked: bats are not filthy, nor are they aggressive. If one does bite, it is most likely a defensive reaction which would occur if a person tries to swat the bat off of his or her body. The smell one may associate with bats has to do with an accumulation of urine below their nesting places, but they are actually meticulous groomers with clean fur.

It is likely that if you find bats around your home, they are either the Little or the Big Brown Bats. The names are misleading, however, since the “big” Browns only weigh about ½ ounce, even though its wingspan is considerably more formidable, 11 to 13 inches. This is why they appear to be “big.” If you see one, it may appear to look like a hawk at first. Two other intimidating features of the big OR little browns are the erratic outdoor “darting” patterns of flight, and the squeaky chattering sounds they emit when they begin feeding. One might not call it mellifluous, or in any way, musical. The sound can be compared to rubbing pieces of styrofoam together.

The bats in the U.S. feed on nocturnal flying insects, meaning they are insectivores. In this way, they are actually beneficial to have around, especially in mosquito season. Once you get over the initial creepiness-factor, many homeowners may decide to install bat houses as a natural method for insect control. However, if you have a bat problem inside your home, bats will NOT move from your house to the bat house if they have found that your house is preferable. This would have to be accomplished in other ways, obviously.

Bats have an echolocation system that permits them to find tiny insects in total darkness. This is why it may appear that Mr. or Ms. Bat is swooping towards us. They are chasing down the insects who are feeding on us. Those bats may be chomping down some mosquitos carrying, oh who knows, maybe West Nile Virus!

One of the reasons that people may have seen an increase in bats in their homes is that caves or old mining shafts were the most common choices for the bats’ roosting residences. With fewer of those spaces available, they are seeking elsewhere. They do not chew their way into a structure though; they find very small openings of homes, buildings, or even churches. They are simply opportunists, and they locate appropriate spaces by sensing air currents and temperatures. They often use attics for years before any odor from built up droppings are detected, since they are usually quiet.

You should know that it is actually illegal to kill bats or to use poisons or chemicals on them, by state and federal decree. So your best bet is to understand WHY they are there and HOW to best relocate them. The bats are following the cool air currents to both enter and exit their indoor location. They follow the cool air into the attic, and they pursue the cool night air to exit and feed. Do not attempt to seal up the attic cracks; instead, seal up the cracks or crevices that lead from your attic into your house for the time being. Holes along pipes, cables, and cracks, plus gaps under doors, are all possible entry points.

Extreme weather changes may result in a sudden bat appearance, for they may be trying simply to move in more temperate locations. Their hibernation periods are from late fall to early spring, and they are seeking approximately 45 degree air. If their hibernation is disrupted by temperature changes, they may attempt to migrate. This is how they may end up either in your house or your basement. Sometimes scratching or squeaking sounds will be heard as they move.

Also remember that if you remove bats between mid-May and early-August, there may be a colony of baby bats that are not flying yet. The young bats would die without their mothers, and then you would have an attic filled with dead animals.

If you see one bat in your home, this may likely indicate that there are more, even a colony nearby. Certain bat species hibernate in “clusters.” It would be wise if you suspect any type of bat infestation to arrange for an inspection in the spring.

For all of your bat removal problems and guano bat dropping removal, call Bats Away today.


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