Just found out that a bat has decided that the ceiling of your attic is the home of his dreams? Are you scared that, in a few days, you might find tens of them flying around? Do you not know how to get them to leave, and you are about to freak out?
Bats are attracted by places that offer stable temperatures, shelter from the elements, and protection from potential predators. Every overlooked crack or gap can be an inviting way in for a bat. These entrances can be:
- Windows and Framing
- Fascia boards
- Less used spaces
Undoubtedly, the quicker you realize a colony of bats is roosting your house, the quicker you will be able to solve the problem. Yet, when facing the family of small mammals in your attic, don’t forget that they might be just as scared as you are! This article will discuss the many ways a bat could have entered your house, as well as some effective techniques to get them out!
How Did Bats Get Into Your House?
In most cases, the colonies of bats that we find in our houses are maternal: a group of mums looking for a comfortable place to give birth and raise their offspring.
Unfortunately, your attic or barn creates the best environment for them to dwell for a few months and even mate and give birth.
While rarer little brown bats migrate seasonally and hibernate over winter, big brown bats can be a more diffused and constant issue. Since bats only need small gaps no larger than ⅜ of an inch to enter a room – any cracks in walls, ceilings, framing, and siding can be a welcoming front door for them1.
Understanding where the problem can originate from allows you to prevent a colony of bats from entering the house in the first place. Here is everything you need to know.
1. Open windows and framing
It might seem obvious, but it is not unlikely that the bats now happily hanging from your ceiling made their way in from an open window!
Whether you like to cool down your room during hot summer evenings or enjoy a fresh breeze in your house overnight, bats are likely to take it as an invitation. If the open window leads directly into a storage area or unused barn, you might not notice a bat’s presence for even longer.
The risk of bats flying straight into your house from an open window is higher just after the pupping season when inexperienced bats tend to drift away from their parents 2.
Bats present high adaptability to urban environments, and they are always on the lookout for highly accessible, warm, and protected areas for their new home 3.
Chimneys, being more significant than cracks and often the home of food such as insects and spiders, are bats’ preferred way into your house.
While some bats colonies prefer to dwell in the chimney, some use it as a corridor to enter other, more comfortable areas of a building. While this behavior is more common after the hibernation season, in spring, you can easily prevent it by installing chimney caps 4. Such appliances allow you to keep any undesired animals out without impeding the airflow.
If there is not a chimney in your house, vents are the second most common entrance. Again, these are more spacious than cracks and gaps and, therefore, more easily identifiable by small mammals such as bats. Similarly to chimneys, vents boast an abundance of edible insects, as well as warmth and protection, which makes them the best living environment.
The most critical danger associated with vents is that they lead to several different rooms in your house, which might make it even more challenging to identify and eradicate the problem. However, installing vent covers can easily prevent the entrance of bats.
4. Cracks in damaged roofing
Damaged roofing can be a tricky entrance to control. Especially if the issue arises from a little-used attic’s ceiling, you might struggle to realize in time that there is a bat colony. Even if your ceiling or roof can seem intact at first, do not forget that any hole as small as a 6mm by 12mm can allow bat entry 5. In this case, you should consider employing a professional animal-control agency to caulk the cracks and “bat-proof” your home.
5. Gaps between bricks or walls
As well as using cracks and holes in the ceiling, bats can easily access a room by infiltrating through the external walls. This one is a common situation you might need to deal with in poorly insulated rooms.
Garages, attics, and barns that have direct access to the exterior of your house and are not as protected as your living quarters can facilitate the entrance of animals and insects. While you might not need screening in these areas, bats consider them just as warm and comfortable as your living room! To prevent them from using such entrances, insulate any cracks and gaps in bricks or tiles internally.
6. Siding of your home
Sidings can be a beautiful addition to the external walls of your house. As they are the first layer of protection against rain, snow, and temperatures, they can rot quickly.
The main walls of a building are usually sturdy and robust, which limits the chances of penetration and roosting. However, sidings only aim at creating insulation and can deteriorate quickly. If bats can make their way into this first coat, they will find a warm gap between the siding and the actual wall that is perfect for roosting and thriving 6.
7. Through the fascia boards
While you might not have noticed them, your house is likely to have a fascia. A fascia is a continuous board that connects the roof’s edges with the house’s outer walls. This simple gadget has the vital task of supporting the last rows of tiles and rain tubes.
Fascia boards are among the outer parts of a building that are more exposed to the elements. The summer heat, autumnal rains, and freezing temperatures in winter can lead to the rotting and deterioration of Fascias in just a matter of a few years.
For bats looking for a place to roost, these components become easily accessible housing solutions. If you are sure that a bat colony is living in your house, but you cannot understand where they could come from, check your fascia board.
8. Attics, sheds, and barns
Isolated, uncrowded, silent, warm, populated by edible spiders and smaller insects: it is easy to understand why bats love these rooms so much! Bats end up in such areas by following a cold air current that is drawn inside by the cracks and holes of your buildings. Alongside it, the age, use, and roofing’s quality of your barn or shed can play an essential role in facilitating the access of bats 7.
How To Get Bats Out of Your House
Now that you know how bats might have gotten into your house, the real question is: how do I get them to leave?
Some species of bats are synanthropic mammals 8. Their existence depends and changes along with urban development and availability of metropolitan areas in which to roost.
While you might be thinking of them as an annoyance, bats most likely end up in your house by mistake. Protecting them and treating them with humanity is essential.
To avoid hurting them in the process of getting them out of the house, wildlife-protection professionals suggest using a three-step method, which includes avoidance, mitigation, and compensation.
PLEASE READ – IMPORTANT
Bats can possibly carry rabies and show other health risks. It is much much more efficient and safer for you to hire a wildlife professional to deal with your problem, rather than remove bats yourself.
Observation is essential to understand how to tackle the problem and eventually manage to get bats out of the house.
First, start by examining where the majority of droppings (guano) and body oils are. These usually resemble black spots, and they give you an indication of where in your property bats have established their colony. Feces and urine will build up in piles below the roosting area.
Then, proceed to find out how they can come in and out of your house. If you find cracks in the walls, open or broken windows, an unprotected chimney, or a rotten siding area, you might have found their way in the house. However, before thinking about caulking any possible way in, read on!
Understanding how to deal with mammals such as bats and take precautions before handling a colony are essential factors to preserve yours and the bats’ wellbeing.
First, my absolute recommendation here is to call a local professional for assistance. However, please note that part of the guidance below comes from the Humane Society 9.
- Start by keeping family and pets away from the roosting area.
- Since bats fly in a U shape: lower at the center of the room, and higher up near the walls. Try to stay by the walls at all times.
- Ensure that any door that leads to other rooms in your house is closed. At the same time, make sure to provide the bat with a viable exit point, such an open window that leads directly outdoors.
- Protect your hands with thick gloves. You should never handle a bat without protection, as bat’s bites can be dangerous. Honestly, you should never handle a bat PERIOD. Call a professional.
- After the first moment of confusion, the bats will likely settle. They will prefer items in your house that allow them to hand. Such spots can be curtains or plants. Once they stop flying around, you can gently place a box or container over them, trapping them inside it.
While handling a bat, avoid using towels or other textile types that boast looser fibers or loops that can represent a hazard for its claws.
Throughout the process, leave any window that leads directly outdoors wide open. A scared bat might head for the nearest exit if he does find one.
At the same time, dimming the lights in your house can help. Indeed, bats are nocturnal animals that tend to fly the most at nighttime 10. Bright lights can cause them to stop their activity and, in an attempt to escape perceived predators, hide behind curtains and drapes.
A darker environment and open windows, instead, allows them higher freedom of movement. This familiar atmosphere might encourage them to leave the room voluntarily, which can avoid you having to deal with the releasing strategies we are about to explore.
As we know, bats cannot take off if they are near the floor. For a bat to fly, it will need to be at least 2 to 3 feet above the ground level. While this unique feature allows them to hang from surfaces away from predators, it can make releasing them in the open a complex operation.
Once you have successfully trapped them in a cardboard box or plastic container, slide a piece of carton between the box and the surface. Now that the bat is inside, you can transport it outdoors in all safety.
Once outside, do not forget that by leaving the box on the ground, the bat will not be able to fly away and can suffer a shock. Instead, remove the piece of carton that you used to trap in the bat at least 2 feet above the ground. By allowing the bat to fall freely at first, it will be able to fly off.
If you are worried about safety while completing these operations, use precautions such as gloves. However, do not forget that bats are not naturally aggressive and are not likely to chase you, but they can.
Clean droppings safely
Your house might be bat-free but still compromised by bats droppings and body oils. Similarly to the faces and urine of other animals, the presence of bats’ droppings in your house can lower the level of safety and hygiene that you aim to achieve.
Indeed, bats and birds guano can cause the transmission of Histoplasmosis 11. Histoplasma, the fungus this condition derives from can cause some nasty side effects. If you notice and bat or bird guano, it’s best to call your local pest control professional.
Many homeowners, in fact, prefer to acquire the services of professionals in the field. This choice ensures that any exposed area in your house is perfectly clean and sanitized!
I HIGHLY recommend hiring a professional to clean these droppings.
Preventing Bats From Reentering Your House
Even though freeing your house from both baths and droppings might have been a challenging venture to you, that was only half of the job!
The next step is to ensure that the colony is not able to return to its roosting place (after they are no longer present of course). Several techniques can help you prevent any pests from entering your house. However, you should pick your preferred strategy based on your needs and the building’s characteristics.
Seal any possible entrances
As we have mentioned above, you should never seal all the potential openings before offering a chance for the bats to escape.
In particular, you should not wait for the bats to fly off at night time to close the various accesses. Indeed, in a colony, not all bats will leave the roosting place at the same time. Closing the way in might mean closing the way out for the bats that are still in your attic or barn.
Tubes are the perfect gadget to get the bats in your house to leave and avoid their return in all safety. You can find these tubes in specialized stores and work by facilitating the bats’ exit while making it impossible for them to climb back through the same gap.
PVC and caulk tubes work best if the bats in your hose use a single crack or gap to come in and out of their roosting area.
Alternatively, if you have to deal with a colony of bats that have settled behind a rotting siding with several gaps, nets are a better device. Such nets are easy to install and retrieve from your local DIY shop.
You will need to attach the top and sides of the net around the roosting area, leaving the bottom side open. In this way, bats will come out of their dwelling, find the net, and crawl their way out from the net. Aside from facilitating their exit, this strategy allows you to prevent them from coming back.
Wrapping it up
A colony of bats living in your attic or shed can be an annoyance, but there are also benefits associated with hosting bats, such as the fact that they feed on mosquitoes and spiders.
However, whether you are determined to get them out of your property or you are not too bothered by their presence, bats should never enter your living quarters. Being wild animals, they will not fit the hygiene standard you are trying to guarantee for your family, kids, and pets.
This guide has provided quite a few ways to expel bats from your home and prevent them from reentering. Given enough time and the right materials, you’ll be able to use the methods listed to make your home as safe and hygienic as possible.
- Racey, Paul & Entwistle, Abigail. (2000). Life-history and Reproductive Strategies of Bats. 10.1016/B978-012195670-7/50010-2.
- Krista J Patriquin, Cylita Guy, Joshua Hinds, John M Ratcliffe, Male and female bats differ in their use of a large urban park, Journal of Urban Ecology, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2019, juz015, https://doi.org/10.1093/jue/juz015
- Gretchen A. Meyer, Joseph A. Senulis, James A. Reinartz, Effects of temperature and availability of insect prey on bat emergence from hibernation in spring, Journal of Mammalogy, Volume 97, Issue 6, 5 December 2016, Pages 1623–1633, https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyw126
- Kubista, C. E., & Bruckner, A. (2015). Importance of urban trees and buildings as daytime roosts for bats, Biologia, 70(11), 1545-1552. doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/biolog-2015-0179
- Voigt, C. C., Phelps, K. L., Aguirre, L. F., Schoeman, M. C., Vanitharani, J., & Zubaid, A. (2016). Bats and buildings: the conservation of synanthropic bats. In Bats in the Anthropocene: conservation of bats in a changing world (pp. 427-462). Springer, Cham.
- Erkert, H. G. (2000). Bats—flying nocturnal mammals. In Activity patterns in small mammals (pp. 253-272). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg