What most of us know about bats we learned in B movies – Vampire turns into bat; bat flies back to castle; bat changes back to vampire; hero drives stake through his heart.
The truth about bats is considerably less frightening, but much more interesting. A single bat can eat up to 3000 mosquitoes per night; they don’t attack humans except in movies; their rate of rabies is no different from other wild mammals; they are not blind; and they are – believe it or not – quite clean.
While bats are intriguing and beneficial creatures, if they get into your home, they can become really annoying – that means noisy, messy, and smelly. Starting in mid-August (for most of the USA) you will have a window of opportunity to rid your house of bats relatively easily. Here’s how.
First, you will need to provide alternative housing for the bats before you start excluding them from your home. (Bat populations have been in serious decline. It’s inhumane to simply kick them out with no place to go.)
The best plan is to install a bat house nearby that is specifically designed to attract bats. Placing it on a pole at a specified height is usually preferable to attaching it to the exterior of your house.
The next step is to determine where the bats are coming/going from your house. There may be one – or many – ways bats are getting into your home. You may be able to find these entry/exit points by going into your darkened attic in daylight and look for light leaks. Or, you may be able to observe the bats coming and going.
If there are multiple points of entry, you will need to seal permanently all but the most obvious point of entry (you need to leave one entry point to allow the bats to leave.)
Once you have eliminated all but one entry point, you will need to devise a way of allowing the bats to leave, but not reenter. There are three basic ways of doing this.
1.Each night after the bats leave, temporarily plug the entry hole, so they cannot return in the morning. If any bats remain, the next day, open the entry hole to allow the remaining bats to leave. You may need to repeat the process for several nights. (Note, depending upon your situation, this method may require climbing ladders at night, in which case I cannot recommend this procedure. Use your own judgment.)
2.There are valve-like devices available that allow bats to leave, but not return.
3.You can make a check valve yourself. An Internet search will turn up suggestions or plans.
The timing of when you do your bat removal is very important. Your bat removal must be done between mid-August and mid-May. This is the time when the young bats have been weaned and can fly, but the bats are not yet breeding again. This time frame is appropriate for North America. Bat removal at any other time is inhumane, and will trap bats in your home, creating other problems. (You might check with a local extension agent as to when bats occupy roosts in your area.)
These procedures should work, but every situation is different. By providing an alternative roost, you not only get the bats out of your house, but retain the benefits of having bats around.
Pretty simple, huh? And a hammer and stake are not required.
Janet Winter is a web designer, travel agent, and writer on many topics. She delights in providing great resources for bird and nature lovers. You can find more information about bats and appropriate bat houses at Wild Bird Goodies.com.