In the wild, bats are often regarding as interesting and exciting creatures. However, if they take up residence in your home, they can become a real problem, and expose you and your family to a variety of dangers. To help anyone dealing with a bat problem, I’ve created this guide that has everything you need to know about dealing with these uninvited winged guests.
The most common method to get rid of bats is exclusion, the process of inspecting the bat’s movements and closing up entry points. However, there are also many other suggested ways to get bats out once they have taken up residence in your home. Some articles also suggest the use of things like aerosols and ultrasonic deterrents.
Bats are commonly found in residential areas, and they often take shelter from the weather during the day. How you deal with the bats will depend on where they are located and the laws in your local area. First, let’s take a look at how you will confirm you have a bat problem and where they are living.
Signs You Have a Bat Problem
In order to choose the best method for getting rid of bats, you first need to confirm that you have a bat issue and locate the entry and exit points of the bats. Bats are commonly found in attics, enclosed spaces such as a chimney, and barns. If you think you might have bats, the points below will help you to highlight telltale clues as to where they are living.
A Strong Smell of Ammonia
Usually, the first sign of a bat is a strong smell coming from your attic. Many people can’t hear the movement of the bats in the attics, and may not go up there much, so the smell is usually the first sign you will notice. Bat droppings, known as Guano, have a strong smell, that is often likened to Ammonia.
If a bat is living in the highest corners of your house, you may be able to hear them, especially at night or around dusk. This is when bats wake up and begin preparing for the night’s hunt, so they will often be loudest at this time. Bats make a high pitched chirping sound that’s similar to a small bird.
Live and Dead Bats Present on Your Property
If you think you have a bat properly, keep your eyes on the roof of your home or barn at dusk. If bats are living on your property, you’ll be able to see them flying around at this time. Also, if you’ve found a lot of dead bats around the area, that could also be a sign that they are living in one of your buildings.
Dealing With Bats in Your Home
So if you’ve positively identified the presence of bats on your property, you’re probably wondering what the best way to get rid of them actually is. Like I mentioned earlier, the best method will depend on where the bats are located. Below are some step-by-step guides for removing bats from areas where they are commonly found.
How to Get Bats Out of the Attic
The easiest way to get bats out of the attic is via a process called exclusion. To fully exclude a bat colony, you’ll need to follow the following steps.
Step One: Identify the Entry/Exit Points
Bats go out to hunt nightly, and therefore, there must be one or more entry points for them to use to come and go each day. In order to start the exclusion process, you need to identify all of these points by inspecting the attic. Entry points are often covered in brown-colored marks left by the bats when exiting and entering.
Step Two: Seal The Entry/Exit Points
Once all the Entry/Exit points have been identified, it’s time to seal the points that you found. At this step, it’s important to leave one of the Entry/Exit points open, so that the bats can leave for good through this gap.
Step Three: Install a One-Way Exclusion Device
Finally, you’ll need to install a one-way exclusion device around the last exit point. This device will allow the bats to leave the attic safely but will prevent them from returning.
Step Four: Clean Up
Bats are messy creatures and it’s likely that they will have left their Guano all over. Guano has potentially dangerous properties, so it’s important to clean the dropping up properly.
How to Get Rid of Bats in a Barn
Getting rid of bats from a barn is much simpler than getting them out of an attic. Due to the linear structure of barns, it can be much easier to locate the entry and exit points and seal them off. The steps to remove them are much the same as the steps to get rid of them out of the attic. However, if you have other buildings on your property, bats might simply leave one barn and enter another.
Experts suggest that creating a new home for the bats is a good idea, providing you have space. If you do, you can create a bat box that is a good distance away from the barns that will give the bats a place to relocate when you exclude them.
How to Get Bats Out of the Chimney
Getting bats out of a chimney can often be a little more difficult than removing them from attics. As such, you’ll need to think about some other things that I have listed below.
Step One: Isolate and Seal the Chimney
When excluding bats from a chimney they can come out of either end of the chimney, so you need to isolate the space around the chimney first. Once you’ve done this, it’s a good idea to seal the bottom of the chimney so that the bats are forced to leave through the top.
Step Two: Locate and Seal Entry/Exit Points
It’s not a given that bats are entering through the top of the chimney, they may be sneaking in through small holes and cracks in the brickwork. Therefore, you’ll need to inspect the whole chimney and them roof area around the chimney for Entry/Exit Points and seal them.
Step Three: Install a one-way exclusion device
Finally, you’ll need to install a one-way exclusion device to allow the bats to leave and stop them from reentering. This should effectively deal with the problem, and if it doesn’t, there could be a chance that you haven’t located the right entry point.
In the same way as I listed above, you’ll need to clean up the Guano once the bats are gone for good
Professional Bat Removal
In many cases, people find that completing the bat removal process yourself can be very difficult and strenuous. In a lot of cases, bat removal involves a lot of climbing and working at heights, which can also be dangerous.
For this reason, people often choose to employ a professional to do the work for them. However, this approach may be more expensive than the DIY options so let’s take a look at how much bat removal costs.
How Much Does Bat Removal Cost?
The amount you pay for bat removal will depend on the number of bats that are present. For a single bat, the cost of removal could be less than $100. For small colonies, the prices can be upwards of $300. For larger colonies, may removal services will charge in excess of $1000.
As you can see, removal for more substantial bat colonies doesn’t come cheap, however, it is sometimes the best option. When removing bats, it’s important that you do so in a humane way, and often professionals are the only people who can manage to successfully remove the bats without causing harm to themselves or the animals.
What Not to Do When Getting Rid of Bats
If you do decide to go ahead and remove the bats yourself, there are some things that you should absolutely avoid doing. These are:
Excluding bats with small babies
In spring/summer, bats give birth to babies. When the babies are born, they are flightless and rely on milk from their mother whilst they grow. If you exclude bats when the bats when their babies are at this stage, the babies will have no way to fly out and follow their mothers, and therefore, they will die.
Lighting Fires in Bat Infested Chimneys
Although it might seem like a way to discourage bats from living in your chimney, lighting a fire underneath a bat colony in a chimney with likely kill a fair few of them, and will not necessarily prevent the others from returning.
Use Poisons or Repellants
Many bat removal experts agree that bat repellants simply don’t work and that exclusion is the only real method of removal. Poison does effectively kills bats, as it does many other small animals, but killing bats is illegal, which I’ll cover in more detail below.
Legalities Surrounding Bat Removal
You may be thinking ‘what does it matter if a bat gets hurt?’ but the truth is, bats are actually protected by law in many countries, and hurting, killing or disrupting the breeding of bats can be a punishable offense. In particular, intentionally killing bats is using poisons, or smoking them out of chimneys can land you in trouble if someone finds out.
Why is It Illegal to kill Bats?
Bats are protected in many countries because many species of bat are actually endangered. Bats play an important part in the eco-system and play a big role when it comes to pollination and seed dispersion.
The main species of endangered bats include:
- Little Brown Myotis
- Tri-colored bat
- Northern Myotis
However, it can be hard to identify which bats are living in your home, so as a result, all bats are protected by law.
Despite this, they have a pretty bad reputation because they have a habit of moving into people’s houses, and making a big mess. Bats can also carry dangerous diseases like Rabies, which makes people inclined to kill them if they have the chance. However, as we mentioned above, this is actually illegal, so you should avoid doing this at all costs.
What If You are Bitten by a Bat?
Like I mentioned above, bats can be carriers of dangerous diseases, so if you’re bitten you should seek medical attention ASAP. If you live in a location that still has cases of rabies then you should clean the wound for up to 10 minutes using soap and water. When dealing with a bat bite, you should seek medical help within 24 hours, as rabies can be hard to treat after this time period.
Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to tell whether or not a bat is infected by rabies so unless you can inspect the bat, don’t leave it up to chance. Bats often show no symptoms of infection, so it’s important to take preventative measures regardless of the circumstances.
Does a Bat Bite Bleed?
According to NHS UK, bats have quite small teeth and therefore, the bite may not penetrate the skin and bleed. However, a particularly severe bite may bleed and be very painful.
Bats are also known to scratch humans using their claws which can also be potentially dangerous. Although a scratch from a bat may not cause excessive bleeding, if it breaks the skin even slightly, it can be a potential entry point for the rabies infection. For these reasons, any contact with a bat should be treated seriously and it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention, even for the smallest bite or scratch.
How Dangerous Are Bat Droppings?
Bats can be dangerous in many ways, and so to can their droppings. Bat droppings AKA guano can be very harmful to human health if handled incorrectly. Guano contains Histoplasma capsulatum fungus. Inhaling this fungus can cause an infectious disease known as Histoplasmosis.
Histoplasmosis is only present in bat droppings from bats in certain parts of the world, so it’s worth checking what type of bats commonly living in your area in order to find the most accurate answer.
The disease can be caught in many different ways, and the effects of the disease vary from person to person. Acute cases of the disease often cure on their own, however, people with weakened immune systems may experience more severe symptoms.
If you think that you may have been affected by Histoplasmosis, you should seek advice from a doctor about anti-fungal medications.
Will Bats Leave My Attic in Winter?
Bats often hibernate in the winter, which means you may think that they have left, but in fact, they may have just become quiet or inactive. Bats might not hang from the ceiling due to the cold temperatures, but if you have cozy alcoves complete with insulation, they may choose these spots to hibernate.
However, if your attic is lofty and cold, then you may find that the bats will leave in search of a warmer space. If they do leave, you should take the opportunity to seal the attic properly, in case the bats try to return when the weather gets warmer.
Do Bats Have Homing Instincts?
Bats have an extremely powerful homing instinct so trying to relocate a bat can sometimes result in the bat finding it’s way back. For this reason, the best method to remove the bat is the exclusion method that we listed above, as this ensures that the bat can’t find a way back in, even if it decided to return to your property.
Do Bats Come Back to the Same Place?
Yes, in a lot of cases, once bats have found a good nesting spot, they will return to it year after year. When winter rolls around, you may find that the bats vacate the property, but this does not mean that they have gone for good.
There is a good chance that they will come back in the spring to have their babies, so it’s a good idea to use the exclusion method listed above and seal all entry and exit points before the bats return for the spring and summer seasons.
What Smells Do Bats Hate?
Bats are averse to many different smells such as eucalyptus, and cinnamon. In the past, people advised the use of mothballs which have a strong smell that bats are known to dislike. However, many experts advise that trying to drive bats away with smells or repellants isn’t effective and the only real way to get rid of them is to exclude them.
Do Ultrasonic Devices Work for Bat Removal?
Many people agree that ultrasonic devices may help to keep bats away temporarily, but it is unclear whether or not they are a good long term option for getting rid of bats. There’s no denying that bats dislike the sound emitted by such devices, and this can cause them to temporarily vacate the premises.
However, experts advise that the use of such methods doesn’t prevent the bats from returning to your home at a later time. To get rid of bats for good, sealing the entrance points after excluding the bats is the best way to go.
Can Bats Give My Pets Diseases?
According to an article published by bats.org.uk, bats are elusive and shy creatures so it is very unlikely that they will come into contact with domestic pets such as dogs and cats. However in the scenario where this did happen, for example, your cat hunted an injured bat, and became injured itself by being bitten or scratched, it is technically possible that the pet could contract a disease, such as rabies.
According to the article, there are no known cases of this happening in the UK, but in theory, it could happen. If you think you have a bat problem, it’s best to deal with it promptly to prevent interaction between your pets and the bats.
So there you have it, a complete guide of how to get bats out of your attic, chimney or barn.
As a final note, be sure to follow to put safety first if attempting bat removal yourself. Make sure to wear protective clothing and be safe in your approach.
Hopefully, this guide helps you to eliminate your bat problems in a safe and humane way.