Short-tailed Fruit Bat (Photo: Andy Morffew, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)
There are over 1,100 bat species in the world, 45 of them in the United States, and over 20 different species of bats in San Diego County. Luckily, there are no vampire bat species prevalent in the U.S. (the species infamous for feeding on blood). However, more than half of all bats in the U.S. are endangered species, and dwindling in number due to the loss of their habitat as people encroach upon their territory, and because of a mysterious illness called “White-Nose Syndrome.”
How to identify you have bats:
Bat guano in an attic (Photo: Wildlife Removal Services)
Typically, bats are quiet if you only have one, two, or even three in your home. Most bat infestations are found in the attic, second is your chimney, and sometimes your walls. Here are some signs that you’ve been invaded:
- Bat Guano (Bat Droppings) – Bat guano will be anywhere that the bat is roosting, but you’ll want to inspect your attic often and check for guano (bat feces) since it’s the most popular roosting spot for bats.
- Sound: Rustling, Scraping, or Squeaking – Since you cannot see through walls, the only indication you have bats infesting them would be sound – rustling, scraping, or squeaking coming from the walls. The squeaking sound is more of a chirping. Bats can hear and call out using what is called echolocation to navigate their way around at night. The squeaking or “chirping” sound is a form of echolocation, which tells them when there are objects obstructing their flight path, and it helps them find food sources.
- Bats at Dawn and Dusk – If you see bats at sunrise or sunset, you may have a bat problem. These are the peak hours they leave in search of food, and return to their nest.
- Stains – The constant coming and going through the entry points and exits will leave brown stains, which are a dead giveaway. This is grease and dirt from their coats. Also, if you see milky-white stains on your windows, it’s bat urine, which also indicates infestation.
- Odor – There is no mistaking the smell of urine and feces, especially from bats.
Bat Removal: Sealing, Eviction, and Exclusion
Bat entry point (Photo: Wildlife Removal Services)
The first step in bat removal is a property inspection to see where the point of entry is, or could be for the bats. As mentioned, stains are telltale sign of an entry point, especially near the attic of homes. Your attic vents, or attic windows are the most obvious point of entry. Second would be your chimney. Entry points can be as small as the human thumb, and professionals are trained to spot them. The first thing the professional will do is seal all entry points except one, which will serve as the exit point. For this part of the job (plugging the holes), chalking is often used. After the entry points have been sealed, it’s on to eviction and exclusion.
Bat Eviction and Exclusion Methods:
- Bat houses: A bat house can be constructed and placed next to your home or office building. You can also purchase them online. It is an attractive alternative for the bat as opposed to your home or office, and aids the eviction process of bat removal (which can take up to 7 days).
- Bat Cones: Cones work well for chimneys and attic vents and fit perfectly into them. Bat cones are small, narrow, cone-shaped tubes that have a slippery interior surface. Bats can fly out of the cone, but they cannot get back in through them. They make the perfect exclusion devices.
- One-way Bat Door/Bat Netting (AKA: Check Valve): These bat doors are made using wire mesh or netting, and the “door” itself may be made of accordion-style plastic (and bendable) tubing (sometimes square in shape). This contraption, when installed allows the bat to leave the roosting site, such as your attic, but does not allow re-entry. Cones may be used as a one-way door and installed along with the netting.
If the idea is to trap and potentially relocate the bat(s), professionals tend to connect the traps to the installed devices, so the bats are trapped upon exit of the building. After all bats have been evicted from the premises, the door or cone is removed and the exit point is sealed up. The final step is clean-up and restoration.
Bat Removal: Clean-Up and Restoration
Bat guano clean-up and restoration (Photo: Wildlife Removal Services)
This is where it would be highly recommended that you hire a professional. Companies like Wildlife Removal Services specialize in attic restoration. The clean-up and restoration process usually involves vacuuming/removing fecal matter, sanitation, and finally removing and repairing insulation where it is damaged.
Never handle bat clean-up on your own. Bats are notorious for carrying two diseases that you do not want your children, or pets to contract:
- Rabies – Most of the human rabies cases in the United States have been caused by the rabies virus in bats. The rabies virus is spread through the bites of animals. If you were bitten by a bat while sleeping you may not realize it because their teeth are so sharp. Rabies affects the central nervous system and the symptoms are fever, muscle weakness, tingling, insomnia, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, problems swallowing, and in some cases paralysis.
- Histoplasmosis – This is a very rare fungus (also known as “Cave disease” or “Darling’s disease”). There are histoplasmosis fungal spores in bat guano (feces) that when inhaled causes a lung infection. The symptoms are chest pain, chills, cough, fever, joint pain, rash, shortness of breath and the list goes on, but the point here is you do not want to get sick with this disease.
For more information on bat removal, clean-up, and restoration contact Wildlife Removal Services.
Here are a few interesting facts you might not have known about bats:
- Bats can live up to 40 years.
- During the U.S. civil war, bat droppings were used to make gun powder.
- Guano (bat feces) is also used as a fertilizer since it is high in phosphorous and nitrogen.
- Bats not only sleep upside down, they also eat, mate, and give birth upside down.
- Bats have an economic and ecological value – they eat the insects that kill crops (e.g., cucumber beetles), which saves farmers billions each year; they are also pollinators and seed dispersers to over 528 species of plants worldwide.
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