Hi my name is Brendan Mangnitz, I have been in the Nuisance Wildlife Removal industry now for nearly 6 years since I graduated from College at UF with a background in Entomology and Wildlife Biology. I have seen and controlled just about any wildlife issue you may think of. I have dealt with Bats in apartments complex, Bat removal from your everyday house hold, Bats in the Attic, Bats digging up yards, Bats in Pools, Bats stuck in Chimney’s, and the list goes on and on. I have used several different control and removal methods for bats and that’s what I want to share with you guys on our website here at Animal-Pros.com.
You’ve probably seen more than one horror movie where someone walks into a creepy old house and bats fly everywhere, right? Bats have been associated with the dark and macabre for ages now, since Dracula was first depicted as having the ability to turn into a bat. While these mammals do reside in dark and creepy places – abandoned buildings, church belfry’s, caves, and attics – they are very rarely aggressive!
There are over 1000 different species of bats found all over the world. In fact, they are the only mammal capable of flying! While you may have gotten in your head that bats are evil blood-sucking vampires, this is hardly the case, unless you’re talking about the Vampire Bat that is. Bats often thrive from eating insects, meaning that if you have bats around, you probably don’t have too bad of a bug problem. If you’re a fan of tequila (YES) then you have bats to thank as they are well known for helping to pollinate the agave plant! With so many different species of bats, how are you supposed to know which bats you might be seeing? Well, depending on what area you are in can affect which kind of bat you are working with. There are about 40 species that are commonly found in the US, which is significantly less than 1000. The two most common species found are the Mexican Free Tailed Bat and the Virginia Big Eared Bat.
Me Performing an Exclusion to prevent bats from getting inside. Its very important to close off any openings 1/2in or larger!
Bats do not often travel alone, they form colonies, which can grow into the thousands! In fact, if you are in Austin, there is a roost of Mexican Free Tailed bats under the Congress Ave Bridge that reaches over a million bats! It is not common to find only one bat in your home, unless he got lost and separated from a group.
Once you have established that you have a bat colony, going about removing them can be a tricky process. You cannot remove colonies during the months that the babies are flightless, the babies would get trapped in the attic and pass away. However, after the babies are grown enough to fly on their own you can seal your home so that this is never an issue again.
The first step is to identify their main entry and exit points, these are the accesses that the roost is using primarily. All other access points can be sealed without worrying about disturbing the bats. Once you have identified the main access point you want to install a “one-way valve”, this valve does not harm the bats in any way and its sole purpose is to make sure they can get out safely but not enter again. Many times, this valve will have a plastic bag or slippery type of material on the end of it so that the bats claws cannot get a good grip to pull themselves back inside. The purpose of the one way is to deter them from entering again, and to find a new place to roost. Many times, once they realize they cannot get into your attic anymore they will simply try to go to the next house that they can.
The exclusion process for bats can take a very long time, especially if you have a barrel tile roof. Bats are well known for being able to fit into tiny holes so it is important that you go over the house many different times to make sure everything is sealed up properly. Once you are positive that every bat has left the attic and there are no more left, you can remove the one-way valve and seal the main entry points as well. Often times, for exclusion work, you need a wire material and caulk to ensure that they will not be able to get back in.
The sanitation is the last step to take in the process and is also probably the most disgusting. You will need thick gloves and even a respirator when removing guano from the attic space. You must dispose of the guano immediately to prevent any kind of health hazards. You will also want to go over the area with a disinfectant, often something that will break down enzymes. It helps to get rid of the smell a little bit faster and doubles up on killing any possible bacteria in the area that could put you at risk.
Many times, you may find yourself getting frustrated with the situation. You didn’t ask for this, and now you have to go out of your way to get them out. Why not just set poison for them and kill them off? Well, for starters, they probably won’t eat it. The bats in your attic are way more interested in eating mosquitos and other live bugs. They will not be interested in a bait set for them. On the off chance you can get them to eat it, they are going to end up dying in your attic. Which may sound like the result you are looking for, but if you thought their poop smelled bad, just imagine what they smell like if they are deceased and decomposing. This will only get worse if you manage to kill a significant number in the colony.
As frustrating as it may be to have to get rid of bats, it is important to make sure that you use all the proper steps so that the bats are removed without harm. Aside from the terrible odor if they die in your attic and the fine you would face for harming them, the mosquitos and insect population in your neighborhood would increase significantly. No more summer backyard BBQ’s, and who wants that? Certainly not me! All outdoor activities would be accompanied by the buzzing and biting that we all know too well! And don't forget how awful pesticides and bug sprays smell, and what damage they can do to your skin and clothes.
Also you might be facing a pretty hefty fine if you were to poison these guys, it is illegal in almost every state to kill bats. Bats are important part of our ecosystem, can you imagine the mosquitos we would have if it weren’t for bats?? Many species of bats are actually on the endangered species list. While they may be annoying -and even potentially harmful- to have in your home, bats help our ecosystem tremendously and if they were to go extinct the devastation could be tremendous.
Many people associate bats with rabies, this is however just a stigma. Many bats do not have rabies, in fact the disease only affects about 1 percent of the population. In fact, it is more common that people get infected with Histoplasmosis from the guano of bats than they do with rabies from bats. This is not to say that you shouldn’t proceed with extreme caution if in contact with a bat. Even with rabies, they are not overly aggressive creatures so it may be difficult to tell if one is infected or not. One bite or even a scratch from a bat carrying the disease will make you susceptible to it, and rabies shots are not a fun time.
Histoplasmosis is a fungus spore that is found in bat guano, often these spores can become airborne. If they are inhaled, they can cause serious respiratory issues. Often, these symptoms are mild. However, if you start to notice any respiratory issues and you have or previously had a bat problem in the home it is important to seek medical attention.
You should always handle bat issues with extreme caution so that you can protect yourself from coming in contact with either Rabies or Histoplasmosis.
Bats are also covered in hair, which means that they shed, often. This constant shedding of hair can make people with allergies go crazy. There are no such things as hypo-allergenic bats! They also have the potential to bring fleas and ticks into your home as well. This is a major issue, especially if you have household pets. The last thing anyone wants is a pest issue on top of a bat issue. There are several diseases linked to bats around the world, however rabies and histoplasmosis are the most common found in the United States.
While many bats prefer caves, your attic is also not that bad of an option for them. Think about it, it’s a dry, warm, dark place for them to feel safe. It’s even elevated and the risk of predators is significantly lower. While you may be thinking that bats are the terrifying ones, they do have a number of predators. It is common for bats to be killed by snakes, raccoons, and predatory birds. Especially since they sleep all day and can be very vulnerable during this time.
One of the best ways to tell that you have bats in your attic is actually seeing them leave the roost. This happens around sunset, or dusk, when they are starting to get ready to feed. If you have bats in your house, you’ll for sure be able to spot them leaving the roost. You’ll also be able to get a better feel for about how many bats you’re dealing with.
The next best way to tell is by the smell or sight of their droppings – or guano. Bat Guano has a distinctive smell, and once you smell it you’ll just know that that’s what it is. You’ll also never forget the smell, so you could walk into a cave and know that there are bats just by the smell of it. You can typically find guano on a wall or windowsill near the entry point the bats are using.
While not very common, you can occasionally hear the bats as well. They are typically rather quiet creatures, however if they get disturbed by loud noises in the house, you may be able to hear some slight rustling noises. You may also hear these noises when they are leaving or returning to the roost.
Since guano is one of the best ways to tell if you have bats, it is important to know how to identify guano from other animals droppings. Surprisingly, bat guano is commonly used in fertilizer as it has high content of both nitrogen and phosphorus. Guano is typically an pellet shape, much like rodent droppings, but will turn into dust once it is touched. Bat guano is also known for carrying histoplasmosis, a fungus that if inhaled can cause respiratory infections. Which is why if you are going to be getting close to it, you must wear protective gloves and a mask.
If you’ve never smelled bat guano before, it can be hard to explain the very distinctive odor that comes with it. It’s very musty smelling, very overpowering, and with an acidic almost lingering smell. Once you smell it once, you’ll recognize it forever. Most times, bat guano covers large areas, and can get very deep. It is also known for being able to eat away at wood and drywall, and is an excellent source for mold to grow. Guano also attracts cockroaches, and if there’s one thing worse than bats, its bats AND cockroaches.
Often, if you have a roost in your attic, you can also find guano leading into and near the main entry point. It may also be dribbled down your exterior walls. Droppings to this extent are commonly only found in bats, you won’t find droppings down the sides of your walls if you have rodents for example.
While you may get really excited for the idea of a man in a red suit coming through your chimney, the idea of a bat doing the same does not sound as appealing. Often times, the chimney is the next best option for bats other than your attic. It is important that if you feel like you do have bats in your chimney that you aren’t lighting fires until the problem is taken care of. This could put the bats in tremendous danger. Getting bats removed from your chimney is almost the same process as getting them out of your attic. You still must identify how they are entering the chimney primarily and if there are any other points. You can seal the other points up, leaving the main access open until you are sure there are no more bats in the chimney and then sealing it. During this process, you want to make sure that your damper in your chimney is closed, preventing the bats from crawling into the living space of the home. However, you may also need to install a chimney cap to prevent them from entering from the top of the chimney.
Many times, cleaning guano from inside the chimney is a difficult task and many recommend contacting a professional. This is just to be sure that all of the guano is removed safely and effectively.
If there are bats in your chimney, it is more than likely a maternity roost, meaning that there are babies. Remember that the babies are unable to fly until about August, so even if you think all of the bats are out, it is your best bet to wait until after the babies would be able to fly on their own before sealing the entire chimney up.
Occasionally a bat may find itself stuck in the actual living space of your home. It can be relatively easy to remove a single bat on your own, however you must make sure you have thick gloves, long sleeves, and other protective gear to help prevent any biting. You want to make sure you enclose the room that the bat is in, close all doors so that he cannot fly to another area of the house. If you have a small net it is best to use that to catch the bat, however a towel will work as well. Just wait until he lands and then scoop him up. Be sure not to put too much pressure on him.
Once you take the bat outside, he should want to take off on his own. If he doesn’t, it is best to place him on a tree and walk away. Bats occasionally need high ground to take off from, so the bat can climb to a more ideal location to take off.
If you have not been experiencing any other bat activity, it is important to check your attic space to make sure that you don’t have a bat colony living unnoticed up there. You basically just want to make sure that this guy was actually flying Han Solo and not a part of a bigger problem. If you notice that he flew right up onto your roof, this could also be a sign that there is a potential entry point.
If you got a bat in your house from a known issue, it is important to identify how he got in from the attic or chimney. You don’t want more bats finding their way inside, so you need to identify it as soon as possible and get the access point sealed.
Many people appreciate having bats in the neighborhood, because they help with bug population, but you do not want them in your house, so what do you do? Deal with the bugs? Or allow bats to potentially damage your home living in it? Well, the answer is to find a compromise. A bat house serves as a location for maternity roosts to have a safe place to house their babies, while also staying in your neighborhood to help with bug control, AND they aren’t in your attic. It’s a win for everyone. Except the bugs.
Bat houses are tiny structures that resemble bird houses, they are typically wooden and provide space for a small roost. You may notice guano around the bat house, however rain and other natural elements will break down the guano. It can actually end up helping your yard as well! Guano is high in nitrogen and phosphorous which makes it a great fertilizer.
These tiny structures are mutually beneficial for both you and the bats. Many people will install them even without having a bat issue previously to try and attract bats to the area. Most bat houses are situated on long, tall poles and you can put as many in your backyard as you see fit. This is an excellent way to help the creatures that help our ecosystem every night!
Most bats tend to hibernate during the winter months, often times this will begin in November and last through around February or March. If you live in a warmer southern state, you might see bat activity year-round. Bats become more active in April, and breeding season starts in late April or early May. This breeding time of year is more than likely when you might start noticing an issue with bats in your attic. They are looking for a safe place to have their babies, and if the cave population is becoming overcrowded, this may prompt them to seek alternative living spaces – like your attic! When it is mating season, the females tend to roost together while the men will roost together in a separate group. Once the babies are about 6 weeks old they are capable of hunting for insects on their own.
Since bats are nocturnal, they will normally leave the roost around sunset, or dusk. Often, you can see them flying out of their entry point if you are outside during this time. They’ll be gone all night, flying around and eating mosquitos, and should return to the roost right before sunrise. At least you can get a full night’s sleep without hearing noises all night! You might hear slight rustling noises as they are preparing to leave the roost, and also upon their return back when they are getting settled back in. Other than that, bats will typically sleep all day, so you probably won’t experience much noise from them at all.
The best time to see bats, rather you’re looking to see if they are in your attic or if you’re just into bat watching, is on warm dry nights around sunset.