Living with bats


Removing unwanted bats

Removing a single bat

A bat that unexpectedly appears in your living quarters may have entered through an open door or window. Another possibility is that it entered from the attic, basement or chimney. In order to solve this problem, isolate the animal in one room of the house by closing the doors to adjoining areas. Next, as long as the bat has not bitten or scratched anyone, open any windows or doors that lead to the outside. Remain in the room so that you don't lose track of the bat. Stand or sit quietly to allow the bat a clear flight path and give it a chance to exit by following the air currents to the outside. Turn down any lights in the room so that the bat doesn't hide behind the curtains or furniture to avoid the light.

illustrationIf the bat doesn't leave on its own, you can try to capture it. Wait until the bat lands. Then, place a net, coffee can or other container over the bat. Slide a piece of stiff cardboard or other material under the container (see figure at right). Take the container outside and release the bat. When attempting to capture, ALWAYS wear leather gloves to protect yourself.

If the bat appears sick or does not fly well, use caution when capturing it. Use the methods described above or pick it up with a shovel or tongs and place it in a box or bag. DO NOT RELEASE A BAT THAT APPEARS TO BE SICK OR INJURED. Call the county health authorities for instructions on how to submit the bat for testing.

Persons who wake up with a bat in the room where they have been sleeping are advised to submit it for testing, especially if it is unable to fly or seems weak. The possibility of an unnoticed bite or scratch is a special concern in situations where a young child, a mentally disabled person, or an individual under the influence of alcohol or drugs is found alone in the same room with a bat. In these situations, post exposure treatment should be considered unless prompt testing of the bat can rule out rabies infection.

After the bat has been removed you should attempt to determine how the bat entered your house. Make sure doors to attics and basements are well sealed and that dampers are kept closed when the chimney is not in use. In spring or summer, noise coming from the chimney, attic or behind walls may indicate the presence of a bird, bat, mouse or other animal.

What if there's more than one?

Although caves and trees are bats' natural roost sites, some species will utilize attics, chimneys and other areas of homes and buildings for maternity roosts. These places provide a warm, dark, secluded environment for the females, which each raise one young a year. You may find bats roosting in exposed areas (ceiling joists and rafters) or in concealed areas (behind boards and between walls). In the winter, buildings provide a protected area for a bat to hibernate and some bats may even find their way into your basement, particularly during hibernation.

Often the first indication that bats inhabit a house is squeaking or scratching noises coming from the ceiling, walls or chimney. Or, you may notice stains on ceilings or walls from the accumulation of bat droppings. Bat droppings can be distinguished from those of other animals in that they easily break apart and contain many small shiny insect parts. Unlike bird droppings, bat droppings do not contain any white matter.