For some people, bats are intrinsically linked to horror films, especially those involving vampires. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Bats are wonderful creatures who improve their habitats by helping with pollination, reducing insect populations and providing excellent fertilizers. However, when bats decide to keep house in your home, it’s time for them to go! But be careful, homeowner: bats are protected by law in the USA. Learn more about these winged wonders and what you can do when they decide to come live with you.

Bats 101

Bats are small, winged mammals—the only mammals who can truly fly! There are roughly 1,240 varieties of bat in the world. They mostly survive off of eating fruits and insects; a bat can eat up to 1/3 of its weight in insects in a night! They are also nocturnal animals who become active at dusk. While they spend most of their time in the dark, bats actually have quite good eyesight and fantastic hearing. They use echolocation in combination with their amazing hearing to pinpoint insects in the air with deadly accuracy. Bats can live for over 20 years under ideal conditions.

Why They’re Pests

Bats normally live in caves and trees. However, humans continue to expand our habitat into theirs, causing bats to lose more and more suitable shelters. To survive, bats in heavily human populated areas seek shelter in quiet eaves and ceiling spaces where they can hide and sleep during the day. Many people find encountering bats in close quarters to be terrifying, and depending on how many bats take up residence in your space, you may find an impressive mess of bat urine and droppings have accompanied your bat residents, which is never pleasant.

Are They Dangerous?

Bats are generally only dangerous to the insects that hang around your yard. They will actively try to avoid contact with humans and larger mammals, like pets. Still, like any animal, they can and will bite when cornered, so it is best to not attempt to provoke or handle a bat at any time.

Do They Carry Disease?

People often think of rabies when they think of bats. It is important to be cautious and take every possible step to not risk exposure to the rabies virus. Bats are typically carriers of rabies and as such don’t normally succumb to the virus. A day to day individual won’t be able to tell if a particular bat has rabies, so it wise not to interact closely with bats.

Histoplasmosis is another disease concern with bats. Histoplasmosis is an airborne disease caused by the spores of Histoplasma capsulatum, a fungus that grows in soil contaminated with bat or bird droppings. Histoplasmosis can affect your lungs to the point of causing severe, tuberculosis-like symptoms. Be sure to use the proper precautions around bats and bat droppings no matter where they are located. Guano (bat feces) in any concentration poses a serious health threat, especially when disturbed, for example during a clean-up effort. That’s just one more reason to contact a professional when bats find their way into your home.

Removal

In the United States, bats are protected by law, and harming or killing a bat can result in heavy fines or even jail time. Therefore, it is essential that you hire a qualified professional wildlife removal and relocation team to deal with any bat issue you may have. These trained professionals will be able to safely remove the bat or bats from your area, and once that task is done, they can assist you in bat-proofing your home or shelter to avoid future run-ins with bats.

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