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What You Need to Know About Bats and Your Home

January 29th, 2013

Plecotus auritusWhat You Need to Know About Bats and Your Home

We may think of bats as pests and rodents; however, they are a protected species. Now is the best time to bat-proof your home before May during their maternity season.

Bat Habits

Bats are nocturnal flying mammals whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. They leave their roosts at dusk to feed and then return just before daylight. Most species are active during the warmer months and hibernate and/or migrate for the winter season. However, they do not fly in rainy or unseasonably cold weather.

Big brown bats

Female big brown bats form nursery colonies in the spring and are joined by males in late summer.  They leave their roost at dusk in a slow, fluttering flight to find food. They feed close to the ground on various insects including beetles, ants, wasps, flies and mosquitoes.

Little brown bats

This species forms nursery colonies in early spring, then migrates south in autumn and hibernates in irregular clusters from September through April. They feed on insects, primarily flies and moths, and alternate their feeding with rest periods during which time they hang to digest their food.

Mexican free-tailed bat

This species migrates to Mexico for the winter, usually leaving in late October and returning in March. They feed on insects, eating up to 1/3 of their body weight each night.

Bat Types

Yes, there are some bats that eat blood.  But no, they don’t go for human necks.  From Wikipedia:

The two traditionally recognized suborders of bats are:

Not all megabats are larger than microbats. The major distinctions between the two suborders are:

  • Microbats use echolocation; megabats do not with the exception of Rousettus and relatives.
  • Microbats lack the claw at the second toe of the forelimb.
  • The ears of microbats do not close to form a ring; the edges are separated from each other at the base of the ear.
  • Microbats lack underfur; they are either naked or have guard hairs.

Megabats eat fruit, nectar or pollen, while most microbats eat insects; others may feed on the blood of animals, small mammals, fish, frogs, fruit, pollen or nectar. Megabats have well-developed visual cortices and show good visual acuity, while microbats rely on echolocation for navigation and finding prey.

So How Do I Protect My Home?

Bat droppings can cause a health hazard, and unfortunately, it’s rarely covered by homeowner’s insurance. And bats, unfortunately, are also carriers of rabies.  This is why you should never pick up a bat if you find it in your home.

From Pestworld:

At dusk, homeowners should inspect the exterior of the home and observe where bats enter and exit. Common access points include attic louvers and under facia boards. It is recommended that homeowners seal any cracks or crevices with caulk and steel wool. Pay special attention to holes in the structure that lead to dark secluded areas, like attics and belfries. Also, screen attic vents and openings to chimneys, and install door sweeps. Exclusion is the only method to keep bats out long term.

Homeowners should contact a licensed pest professional if an active bat infestation is suspected, as the problem often can not be controlled with do-it-yourself measures.

Your best bet is to contact your local animal control services and get a recommendation if you suspect you have a bat colony in your home.

Have you seen bats around your home?

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