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Unwanted House Guests: How to Handle Bats in Your Home.

Bats are out and about in the cool evening. Sitting around a fire in your backyard on a warm summer evening, just after sunset, you may notice the quick flutter of wings high above the trees.  Bats are not aggressive; you can thank the bats for reducing mosquitos while making those yummy s’mores!

What are bats?

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation shares these quick facts about bats, specifically the Little Brown Bat:

  • Little brown bats have a wingspan of 8-9 inches. Their body length is 3-4½ inches long with a 1½ inch forearm. On average, adults weigh less than half an ounce.
  • Bats are covered in a coat of silky cinnamon and dark brown hair with pale grey underneath. They have black hand-like wings.
  • Bats are the only mammals that can fly.
  • They are insect-eating machines, eating thousands of flying insects overnight!
  • Bats use echolocation (rapid pulses of sound that bounce off an object) to detect and catch insects. They scoop the insects up in their tail or wing membranes, then place them in their mouths. This is what gives them such an irregular flight pattern.
  • As temperatures decrease in the fall and the number of insects diminishes, bats migrate to their hibernacula (a place where animals hibernate) in caves or mines for the winter. During hibernation, a bat will reduce its body temperature. It will slow its heart rate to only one beat every four or five seconds and rely on its stored fat reserves to survive until springtime.
  • Bats make sounds by echolocation, which are generally too high-pitched for the human ear to hear. You may be able to hear a click or squeak as they fly directly overhead.
  • Bats LOVE mosquitos and consume tremendous amounts of them on a summer’s evening!

When temperatures become warm enough in the spring, bats emerge from their hibernation sites to find an above-ground roost. Your best bet is to look for bats approximately 30 minutes after sunset from late spring to early autumn. When temperatures fall in autumn, the bats will return to their winter homes to hibernate.

Are bats harmful to pets?

Bats will only bite a pet if threatened or provoked; they are not usually confrontational.

In addition, bats are nocturnal animals that come out at night. Bats found on the ground or out during the daytime are typically sick and often have rabies. The bats that our pets can catch or roll on have a high probability of being sick.

If you find your pet with a bat:

  • Do not touch the bat with your bare hands!
  • Wearing thick gloves, pick the bat up and put it in a disposable container. The bat might need to be sent away for testing.
  • Contact your veterinarian.
  • If a person had any contact with the bat, call the county health department and your family doctor immediately.

Rabies is a concern and is most often seen among wild animals such as raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes, but any mammal can be infected with rabies. Pets and livestock can get rabies if not vaccinated to protect them against infection. Did you know that among domestic animals, cats are most frequently diagnosed with rabies in New York State?

The best way to keep pets safe from rabies is to vaccinate them and keep their shots up to date. If a rabid animal has injured your pet, contact your veterinarian for medical care. Even though your pet has been vaccinated, a booster dose of rabies vaccine may be needed within five days of the incident. Contact your county health department to determine what additional follow-up may be required.

How do I stop bats from entering my home?

Believe it or not, bats are quite industrious, and as the temperatures start to cool in the evenings, bats look for a place a new home. Homeowners should examine their homes inside and out for weak and accessible bat entry points. Note: If you have a spider or mosquito problem, you must treat this problem before treating bats. Many species of bats eat bugs and will stick around happily if they find an easy food source.

  • Seal off entry points. Examine your attic and home for entry points that critters may use to enter your home. Use a caulking or sealant product to fill these holes and gaps so that pests cannot enter your home. Bats can fly through holes as small as half an inch, so you must be meticulous with your examination to ensure you don’t miss any entry points.
  • Introduce natural enemies. Bats have many natural enemies, such as owls. Purchase a fake, plastic owl and place it near your roof or attic, anywhere high up, and easy to see. This will ensure that bats roosting near your home see the owl and steer clear. We recommend switching the owl’s placement several times a year to keep the bats scared.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed. This is a crucial tip, especially when bats are most active at night. Also, regularly double-check that your window and door screens are not damaged to prevent bats from entering through holes or gaps in the screens.
  • Change your outdoor light bulbs. Pests, including bats, are attracted to bright light. Try changing your outdoor light bulbs to yellow ones. This will also attract fewer bugs, decreasing bats’ natural food source.
  • Install wire mesh coverings in strategic areas of your home. Bats are attracted to chimneys, attics, and furnace vents. If you have any of these, install a wire mesh covering this area to prevent bats from entering and roosting in this area.

What damage can bats do in my home?

Here is a short list of the dangers bast present in your attic:

  1. Health Risks: Bats are known carriers of diseases like rabies, which can be transmitted to humans through bites or scratches. While most bats do not have rabies, treating all encounters with bats as potentially infectious is essential.
  2. Fecal Matter: Bat droppings, known as guano, can accumulate in your attic. These droppings may contain harmful pathogens, including fungal spores that can cause respiratory diseases when inhaled.
  3. Structural Damage: Bats may cause structural damage to your attic by gnawing on wood, insulation, and electrical wiring. Their presence can also lead to odors and staining from urine and feces.
  4. Noise and Disturbance: Bats can be noisy, especially at night when they are most active. The sounds of fluttering wings and scratching can disrupt your sleep and daily life.
  5. Increased Pest Activity: Bats can attract other pests, such as bat bugs or mites. When they leave their roosts, these pests may remain behind and infest your attic.

 How can you effectively and safely remove bats from your home?

Homeowners should contact a licensed pest professional if an active bat infestation is suspected, as the problem often cannot be controlled with do-it-yourself measures. Many states also have laws protecting bat species, and removal may require a special license or approval.  (pestworld.org)

All Pest Proz is a family-owned and operated business licensed by the DEC and certified with New York State. Contact us to learn more about our services and how All Pest Proz can protect your family and pets from pest and wildlife infestations.

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Resources: NYS Dept. of Health, Adobe Veterinary Center, Today’s Homeowner,

pestworld.org,

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