Bats are often persecuted due to the fact that most people have no understanding of bat ecology and the important role they play in controlling night-flying insects. Bats are not blind, and they do not intentionally get tangled in your hair. Many people seem to think that all bats have rabies. This is not true. Quite the contrary, as less than 1% ever contract rabies, and it is highly unusual for a bat to contact a person, though a sick bat may have no fear of a human or other animals. Almost every person who gets bit does so because they pick up a sick or injured bat. Like any other wild animal, bats should never be handled at any time, especially when found on the ground or in a home.
If a bat is found in your home and you are not able to contact a wildlife control operator, always wear thick leather gloves and use a net, towel, plastic container, or other method for capturing. NEVER try to catch a bat with your bare hands! Unless you are 100% certain the bat in your home had no contact with anyone, bats found inside your home should be taken to your local health department for rabies testing. Even though rabies in bats is not common on a statistical basis, rabies is a deadly disease. If anyone in the home was unknowingly bitten or scratched, by the time rabies symptoms appear it is too late for help. IT IS A FATAL DISEASE. Every state has different protocol regarding bats found in homes, so before releasing them outside call your local health department or animal control for information.
Bats are not rodents, and have little in common with mice or rats. Bats are not filthy little critters. They are meticulous about keeping their fur clean and groomed. The smell associated with bats is due to the accumulation of guano and urine below their roosting areas. They have tiny little teeth, but are still able to inflict a bite to human skin. This would occur when a bat is picked up or otherwise mistakenly contacted. If a bat would accidentally land on you, your reaction would most likely be to brush it off. The bat would bite only as a defensive action. They are not aggressive.
The bats most commonly found using homes for roosts are the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat. Don't let the "big" name fool you, as a Big Brown only weighs about 1/2 ounce, but has a wingspan from 11 to 13 inches. This makes them look much bigger, especially if one is flying around inside your home. To most people they look like an eagle or condor when cruising around in their house. They are about 4.5" in length when roosting. When feeding, the flight pattern of a Big Brown is fairly straight, and they usually fly from 20 to 30 feet high, often emitting a chatter while flying.
The Little Browns only weigh about 3 to 4/10ths of an ounce, and are only 3 to 3.5 inches long when roosting. Their wingspan is from 8.5 to 10 inches, which still makes them appear large when they are flying indoors. Their outdoor flying pattern when feeding is a very erratic pattern, usually darting back and forth and making quick direction changes. Both Little Browns and Big Browns often emit a chattering sound as they get ready to exit their roosting areas at sunset to begin feeding. The sound is similar to a cricket or katydid noise. I also compare it to the squeaking sound made by quickly rubbing pieces of styrofoam together.
There are no vampire bats in the United States, although they can be found in South America and there are a few in Central America. The bats in our neighborhoods are insectivores, which of course means they live on insects. They consume a tremendous number of night flying insects every night during the spring, summer, and fall seasons.Since bats consume extremely high numbers of mosquitoes and other night-flying insects, they are very beneficial to have around. Many homeowners are installing bat houses on their property to provide a natural method of insect control and reduce the need for pesticides. Bat houses do not increase the chance of having bats in your home. If bats find your home favorable to them as a roosting site, they are already in there. Bat houses are not a solution for a bat problem in a structure. Bats are not going to "move" from your home into a bat house.
Bats do not attack people, and a fear of bats is caused by a lack of education about them. Their echolocation system enables them to locate a tiny insect flying in total darkness. How could anyone think they would run into a person? When people are outdoors at night, insects are attracted to us by heat and smell. The reason bats sometimes appear to be swooping towards us is due to the fact they are simply zoning in on the insects we attract. The next time you see a bat pass close by, you should be thankful. It may have just eaten a West Nile Virus infected mosquito that was about to bite you!
Bats only become a problem when they decide to use an attic or other section of a home or building for a roosting or nursery colony. Most people do not tolerate that idea very well, and it becomes necessary to evict the bats and repair the structure as needed to prevent them from entering in the future. Accumulations of their droppings (guano) can cause odor and bug problems, which is the primary reason bats should be excluded from a structure occupied by people. Bats may use caves or old mining shafts for roosts, but many of those areas are becoming scarce. Bats are adapting by using man-made structures for roosting and nursery colonies. They are able to locate very small openings into homes and buildings, and it seems churches are one of their favorites. Bats do not chew their way into structures!They only use gaps and holes that already exist, and locate them by sensing air currents and temperature. They are simply opportunists. Taller structures are more likely to receive less maintenance due to a lack of access for repairs. People seldom notice small cracks or gaps on higher buildings, but a 1/2" crack in a mortar joint 30 or 40 feet off the ground becomes a superhighway for bats to enter a structure. Since they are nocturnal and for the most part very quiet animals, they often use attics for years before the odor from the build-up of droppings alerts us to their presence.
Never seal your home without performing an exclusion!
Most people will panic when they discover bats are living in their home. The first reaction is to immediately seal all the holes on the structure. It is the absolute worst thing you can do, but unfortunately the most common step that is taken. People who fail to research the subject will usually seal the holes duringthe day when the bats are roosting inside. The first night after a homeowner closes all access holes becomes quite a memorable experience, as the bats usually find their way into the living quarters as they desperately seek a way out of the structure. Now instead of an odor problem, you have a colony of stressed-out bats flying around in your house. If they are not able to find their way into your living quarters, they die in the attic. You can guess how pleasant that becomes after a week or so.
Understanding basic bat behavior helps us realize what causes them to enter the living quarters of our homes. Bats are very sensitive to air currents, and the cool air which enters an attic after sunset is what triggers the bats to exit the structure and feed each night. As an attic cools down, cool outside air is drawn into any cracks or holes, and the bats follow the air currents to the exit holes. It is very common for bats to find their way into the living quarters of homes, usually during warmer summer temperatures when we use our air conditioning. The cool air from your home can escape into the attic through very small cracks and holes, and the bats simply follow the currents to the source, accidentally ending up in your living area. They do not want to be in your home, but are simply reacting to cool air currents on instinct. They are simply looking for is a sky full of flying insects. Sometimes the bats that enter the home are young ones trying to find their way outside for the first time.
Until an exclusion can be performed, the problem of bats entering the living quarters can be solved or minimized by sealing all holes and cracks leading from the attic into your living areas. Holes along TV cables, water pipes, and cracks in drywall or gaps in ceiling tiles are all possible entrance points. Gaps under doors leading to attics and closets are common entry points.Remember, it is illegal to kill bats, as most are state protected and some federally protected. It is also illegal to use any type of poisons or chemicals for bats. Bat exclusion measures should not be performed from mid-May through early-August, as there may be young bats in the colony that are still unable to fly. The young bats would die without their mothers, and an attic full of dead animals is much worse than having the bats roosting there. The infestation of ecto-parasites and other insects attracted by the dead bats can cause problems even more serious than the bats living there. Bats will sometimes appear in your home during the winter months. They hibernate from late fall (Oct/Nov) until spring arrives (Mar/Apr). It was previously believed bats migrated to caves or mines for hibernation, but we now know many will hibernate inside homes and buildings. Temperatures above 45 degrees are suitable, and it is common for Big Browns to hibernate in homes and buildings. Contrary to most bat research, Little Browns will also hibernate in structures. Working in the wildlife control business has allowed me to see this first hand. Bats hibernating in homes may move down between the walls in the winter, and sometimes scratching or squeaking sounds will be heard when they are moving around or disrupted. They sometimes find their way into basements for the winter hibernation period. They may even accidentally find their way into your living quarters during the winter months. There are a couple factors that may cause these winter appearances in a home. Hibernating bats may respond to a sudden warm-up in outside temperature, which may be a false signal that spring is near. Some bats will come out of hibernation a couple times during the winter to rehydrate, as they may sometimes be seen flying outdoors in December through February. These are usually one-day "awakenings" to get a drink. This may explain the sporadic incidents of bats in your home during the winter.
Another change that will sometimes get bats moving inside a home or building during the winter is the arrival of an arctic cold blast. If the temperature drops rapidly to a level much below about 45 degrees where the bats are hibernating (attic, etc), they will attempt to locate an area inside the home or building with more favorable temperatures. They often crawl down between walls or down along plumbing or wiring, and commonly find their way into basements. I have found scratch marks from bats (in the dust) inside furnace and air conditioning ductwork in a home and also an apartment complex, and both sites had experienced bats "appearing" from the register vents in mid-winter. The presence of a bat in your home during the winter could be an indication you have a colony of bats living in your home. Certain bat species may hibernate in groups or "clusters", so a single bat appearing in your home during the winter could possibly indicate there are more bats hibernating in the structure. It may be wise to arrange for an inspection in the spring. We offer bat removal services for most of Illinois and some areas in adjacent states.
BAT ENTRY POINT
Bat houses are becoming much more popular, as the trend towards natural pest control is growing. Bats consume tremendous numbers of night-flying insects, and will work long hours for free if you simply provide them a home. The concerns relating to the West Nile Virus are prompting homeowners to install bat houses to help control mosquitoes. The combination of mosquito reduction along with less use of chemicals is a win-win situation. For those who have attracted bats by installing bat houses, watching the bats exit the houses at sunset to feed is a very enjoyable experience. Viewing their nightly feeding frenzy in the sky becomes a favorite evening activity for many homeowners.
Placing bat houses in the best location will increase the chance for bats to find and use the house. Much information can be found at the Bat Conservation International website. Go to batcon.org and check out the criteria for bat house locations. There is a great deal of information on their site about bats, and also links to many other related sites.
SOME OF OUR PICTURES FROM BAT WORK AND ATTIC CLEAN-UP WORK
Bat work is often HIGH. The chimney flashing needed sealed on this 3 story school building.
We definitely have a family business. My wife Judy getting ready to vacuum bat droppings in an attic!
Every inch of a structure must be sealed when performing bat work. We do whatever it takes to get it done.
Bats are very attracted to large brick structures. The heat retention from the bricks provides an ideal roost site.
Some structures require extensive repairs and cleaning. This hunting lodge on the Illinois River was home to over 20,000 bats.
Top notch helper Paul Helms spraying a water mist on bat guano before vacuuming. This is in a huge church attic.