Living with bats


Cleanup

Once the bats have been excluded from the roost area should be thoroughly cleaned as bat droppings can create a strong odor. This odor may also attract bats if new openings develop in the structure. Use caution cleaning the area to avoid contracting histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis is a respiratory infection caused by inhaling fungal spores which may grow in bat droppings. This fungus is widespread in soils throughout the world. In this country it is most prevalent throughout the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys and primary sources of infection are the droppings of starlings, pigeons and poultry. Although most people contract histoplasmosis have few if any symptoms or problems, some people develop serious respiratory conditions.

When cleaning up bat droppings, wear a tight fitting respirator that will filter particles as small as 2 microns. Dampening the droppings before cleaning them up will help decrease the spread of any spores. The droppings should be sealed in plastic bags for disposal. The area should then be cleaned and disinfected with a solution of 1 part household bleach to 20 parts water. Clothes worn while cleaning should be washed immediately.

Many people believe that bats are dirty creatures harboring parasites that readily transfer to humans. Actually, the fleas, ticks, mites and bed bugs that live on bats rarely bite humans. Once the bats have been excluded from the area, any remaining parasites will quickly die without the bats to feed on.

If you decide to contact a pest control operator, look for one that uses non-lethal, non-chemical methods to permanently exclude bats. All pest control operators need a permit from the Department of Agriculture. Remember that ultra-sonic devices are not effective. Also be wary of any company suggesting the use of a pesticide or insecticide once the bats have been excluded. As stated above, insects associated with bats rarely pose a problem to humans whereas the chemicals used could be harmful to you and your family.

Once the bats have been excluded from your home or other structures, you may want to provide an alternate roost site for the bats by putting up a bat house. Bat houses have been used in Europe for many years and are becoming increasingly popular in this country. Encouraging bats to stay around your yard will help control mosquitos and other insects. To obtain information on how to build a bat house write to:

Minnesota DNR Nongame Wildlife Program Box 25, 500 Lafayette Rd. St. Paul, MN 55155-4007