Bats benefit man by consuming immense numbers of flying insects. However, when they roost in numbers in our home, their accumulated droppings, odors, mites and lice cause problems. There is also the potential threat of rabies, but this is rare
Bats have been the subject of many horror stories and films and consequently suffer from a number of inaccurate myths. Contrary to what you may have heard:
- Very few bats become rabid (less than half of 1 percent).
- Bat droppings in buildings usually are not a source of histoplasmosis.
- Bats are not filthy and will not infest homes with dangerous parasites.
- Bats are not aggressive and will not attack people or pets.
- Bats in the United States do not feed on blood. (The vampire bat, which does feed on blood, lives in Latin America.)
Bats deserve a much better reputation. Bats consume literally tons of insects in our country each year and are one of our best allies in controlling insect numbers. For instance, a single little brown bat (one of the common house-dwelling bats) may eat 600 mosquitoes in an hour. Bats are the only major predator for night-flying insects.
In other parts of the world, bats pollinate and disperse seeds for many tropical plants. Wild stocks of bananas, avocados, dates, figs, peaches, mangoes, cloves, and cashews are pollinated by bats.
Bats also have contributed to medical research in birth control and artificial insemination techniques, navigational aids for the blind, vaccines and drugs, and new surgical techniques. Without bats, we would suffer great economic losses and our quality of life would be reduced.
Why Bats Enter the Home
While the bat may be wonderful for us when it is outside where it belongs, we do not want to have any bats in our belfry or in our attics. Bats really do not particularly want to enter our home, mainly because they are not all the fond of being so close to people. Bats enter homes for at least five reasons:
They inadvertently fly through open windows, doors, open repair areas or down chimneys. Once inside they hide in closets, behind curtains, bookcases, etc. In most cases, they really don’t want to be there.
In some cases, they enter deliberately. Maybe their former home has been eliminated and they need a place to live. If for whatever reason they do want to be there, bats are able to squeeze through narrow slits and cracks as small as 3/8 inch in diameter.
3) A few males (usually less than 4) will roost during the day behind shutters, under an awning, and other protected shady spots on the house.
4) Bats are more frequently seen in and around a home in May and/or August. This is not an accident. Those bats are usually females and with their newly born young looking for a summer maternity roost.
5) Bats occasionally blunder into a house from November - March when warm weather causes hibernating bats to wake up and move around.
Why Are We Concerned With Bats?
Most homeowners just don’t like the idea of bats in their house for any reason and have no more motivation to get them out than that. In very rare instances a bat can have rabies which is a serious problem. Rabies is the most important public health hazard associated with bats because it can be fatal if not treated within the incubation period (2 weeks to several months). Humans may be infected if they are bitten or handle the infected bats.
When bats settle into the attic they can be a real nuisance. Their scratching, crawling, climbing, and vocalization may be heard in attics, under eaves, and behind walls, especially on hot days, before leaving at dusk, and returning at dawn.
Bat dropping contain bits of undigested insects, are powdery when crushed, and are not white and chalky like bird droppings. Bat guano has an unpleasant odor and can be an airborne health hazard. Bat urine crystallizes at room temperature, appearing white and powdery where it has accumulated. Bats can urinate and defecate in flight, causing spotting and staining of objects near their entrances.
Those are reason enough to want to remove the bats and prevent their return