If you discover a bat flying around your house, don’t take it personally. It’s not a comment on your housekeeping—or lack thereof! Sometimes they accidentally fly in through an open door without being noticed. Other times they find their way in through gaps in your eaves, spaces around loose-fitting windows or doors, vents, or other small openings. So, okay, that may be a comment on the need for some outdoor maintenance, but we’ll get to that later. First, let’s focus on helping you get that “bat in house” problem resolved.
Bat in house …
Stay calm, and carry on… Well, there’s more to this than that mantra can cover. Staying calm is a great first step, but you‘ll need to carry something more than a preposition, so here’s your plan:
- Send kids and pets into another room and close the door, as well as other interior doors.
- Open an exterior door or windows, or both. This may be all that’s needed.
- If the bat doesn’t leave, get a thick pair of work gloves, a box or container, and a piece of cardboard larger than the container’s opening.
Stay near the walls of the room to keep out of the bat’s way as she swoops around.
- Watch for the bat to land on drapes, upholstered furniture, hanging clothing, or maybe a large houseplant—anywhere a bat might “hang out” in a bat sort of way.
- Approach with your container, carefully placing it over the bat. Gently work the cardboard between the surface the bat is clinging to and the container’s opening.
- If there is a chance that anyone was bitten, the CDC recommends that the bat be tested for rabies. Contact your animal control agency for instructions.
- If you are certain no one was bitten, carry the enclosed bat outside to a tree or other vertical surface she can grasp (bats cannot fly up from the ground).
- Open the container toward the tree or surface so the bat can grab hold.
- Step away, and watch as your rescued bat flies off.
Phase two …
9 times out of 10 an errant bat who was on the hunt comes in through an open window or door, but you want to take a close look at all the possible ways the bat may have entered. Why? There may be a group or colony of bats in your attic or basement. To see if this might be the case look for gaps in the eaves, between chimney and house, at roof peak vents, around windows and doors, vents without covers, and so on. Positive evidence would include stains (“rubs”) or accumulations of guano under or near them.
A really good way to find out if bats are availing themselves of an opening to your attic or house void is to conduct a bat watch at dusk and see if they are entering somewhere on your house. If you discover one or more openings you will have to wait until the young and dependent pups who are likely present are old enough to leave and survive without mom’s care. This usually happens in the late summer or early fall, but will depend on where you are and what species might have taken up residence. Bats are protected species and it will be important to gather information from your state wildlife agency and local wildlife groups as they can direct you to professional services that can help you evict the bats properly and resolve the conflict.
The only way to get bats out properly is to wait for the appropriate time and then use an eviction and exclusion strategy—which usually requires the employment of a professional. Typically, they will employ a “check valve”, eviction cone or similar device which will allow bats inside to get out (very important), but keep bats outside from getting back in (equally important). These devices will be left in place for about a week, so all bats have a chance to leave, after which permanent repairs need to be made to seal the openings and protect the house from future intrusions. Make sure the professional you choose is knowledgeable about eviction strategies and bat species’ life histories as well as how to guarantee they do not get back in.