As the busy “baby season” of rehab finally slows and a lot of the babies are now wild and free, the season changes to “Bat Season” which is the end of July into Mid-august when people call frantically in the middle of the night to ask for help getting a bat out of their homes. Of course, these often 2 AM calls rarely start off with a polite “Gee, I am really sorry to be calling you at 2 AM in the morning and wake you, but…” No, I usually get a caller that somehow assumes that I am wide awake sitting by the phone at 2 AM on a week night waiting for these calls. Anyhow, I do my best to stay polite and try to help. I often have thoughts if having a “900” number for such calls, as the caller never realizes that my advice, time and sleep are valuable…
Anyhow, why are there bats in homes this time of year? Well, because the young bats are just learning to fly. Those roosting in homes are confused by light streaming in from the living space. That light could be a TV, kitchen light, night light, hallway light…. Bats often follow light (YES… follow light!!!) to find their way outside. Light from inside homes streaming into areas where these babies are getting ready to take their first flight into the great outdoors fools them and they end up inside the home.
So, how can one “bat proof” the inside of the home? With a good cheap caulk, weather stripping and good old duct tape. Attic doors can be taped around the edges – why? Have you ever been in an attic during the day? Well, it is real dark up there! But if you turn on the light outside of your attic door, go into the attic and close that door and look at it from different angles, you will see light streaming in from the other side of the door. That is what the bats see! If you continue to roam the attic and look toward the eaves of the house, you will also very likely see light streaming in from outside. This is how the bats find their way outside.
Look at your fireplace. Rarely does brick or stone match up perfectly to your drywall. Bats will climb up and down the outside of a chimney (not usually the inside as often thought) . If there is a small space between the stone where it meets your inside wall, caulk it, as this is another place that the bat could see light streaming in and get confused. TV’s are usually the light source here. Look for cracks where walls meet ceilings, where ceiling drywall was cut around light fixtures, where windows meet walls. Look where beams meet ceilings and caulk, caulk caulk! How about where the exhaust pipe from your stove goes up and out of the house through the kitchen? Look at the space between that and the drywall. Do you have Pocket doors? You might just as well tape them right up. Do you have unfinished remodeling projects in the house? Well, better get them done once and for all, open walls and ceilings are major culprits for bats finding their way into your living space.
Always be sure your pets are vaccinated for rabies, even though less than 1% of all bats have rabies, why take a chance and have to deal with the hassle of worrying? Never handle a bat with your bare hands. Use gloves and a towel. Never, EVER swat at a bat with a tennis racket, or any other object! What’s up with that???
Always be sure the inside of the home is sealed and caulked. After all, if bats can get in, so can bees, flies, mice, etc.. and of course during the winter, you are also losing heat.
There is only one humane way to get bats to stop roosting in the eaves, attic, walls, etc… That is through exclusion. Never hire a bat control person who will exclude bats during the season when they have their babies – this is June, July and the first two weeks of August. That is baby season and the mothers will be frantic to get back to their babies which will be sealed in. Not only is it very cruel to make babies starve to death, and cruel for their mothers to hear their babies cries and not be able to get to them, but all those dead baby bats will stink and attract bugs- plus you will have to live with the thought of all of those dead baby skeletons in there…. Also, if bats are sealed in, they may find exits into your living room that you never dreamed existed and you could have bats all over the inside of your home.
Never use a bat control person who claims to “relocate bats” – Bats are like homing pigeons and will come back unless taken over 100 miles. That control person is not being truthful.
Don’t use a bat control person who uses a cage or box to “catch the bats” so they can be released. The bats will suffocate, melt to death in the heat or be drowned or gassed by the technician.
Never, ever hire someone who will use glue boards to catch the bats . Despite what the glue board companies tell you, the glue doesn’t come off, and the animals are never “carefully freed with oil”. Glue boards are disgusting, cruel instruments of torture and should be outlawed. Warm Canola Oil has been recommended – been there, done that, it doesn’t work and the animals will die from the stress if you try anyway.
Never allow someone to use a repellent or spray to kill the bats. That is not legal, and again, it is cruel. There is no known “bat repellent”.
Good luck with the high pitched plug in noise makers – they are more likely to attract and entertain the bats than repel them.
So, only good old fashioned one way doors, known as check valves, used properly before or after the baby season will work. Of course if your house has a dozen other entrance ways through the roof, eaves, chimney line, etc… you will need to seal these up as well. This is why a good excluder is often very expensive. It is not as much a “bat problem” you may have as a construction problem. It is the sealing, patching and fixing of all areas that the bats can get back in that becomes expensive. So if you have an old rickety home, the best thing you can do might be to just be sure the inside of the home is caulked and sealed to prevent the bats from finding their way into your living space.
Stay tuned – In the next blog I will tell you how to remove a bat from your living space….