Bats in your Belfry? How to Banish Bats for Good
Glittery bats on Halloween decorations are adorable. And even the bats you see flying around outdoors do an important job; they help keep the insect population in check.
But finding a bat in your home is a fright no one wants to deal with. If you find one living in your home, quick and safe removal is essential due to the risks to your health and the house structure. Learn how to get rid of bats safely, so you can breathe easily.
If you have bats inside your home or other structures (like a barn or shed), you also have gaps somewhere in the structure that lead to the outside. Bats often end up in attics because there are gaps and openings in the roof where they can squeeze inside. You might have cracks along your roof, or the bats might be squeezing in through vents and other uncovered openings on your roof. If you want to control the bat situation, you'll need to figure out where they're getting in and spot other potential entrances, so you can close them.
Bats do pose a health risk to humans. In fact, they're the leading cause of U.S. rabies deaths, according to the CDC. You can contract rabies from bat bites and scratches, which are often small and difficult to detect. Rabies is life-threatening to humans, and it's a painful condition. It doesn't affect all bats, and laboratory testing is the only way to tell if a bat has the disease.
You could also contract histoplasmosis from a fungus in bat droppings. It causes fatigue, fever and a cough that often lingers for weeks or months. Some people experience allergic reactions when living in a home with bat infestations.
Bats can also be dangerous to your home. The guano, or droppings, from bats can eat away various building materials, including wood. This can result in structural damage that affects the safety of your home and leaves you with costly repair bills.
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Bat removal is regulated in many areas, so never do anything with a bat until you understand the local regulations. Small bat infestations with one or two bats can sometimes be handled by the homeowner. However, it's always safest to let a professional handle bat removal. Even minor bites or scratches can result in rabies if the bat is infected. Guano is also dangerous.
If you want to handle bat removal yourself, the best way is to exclude them from your home by waiting until they leave and blocking their entrance. However, you shouldn't use this method during bat maternity season, which is the time when bats are having babies. The dates vary by where you live and the bat species, but it's typically between April 15 and August 15. Many states prohibit exclusion methods during this period. If you exclude the mother from your home, the babies will still be inside and will die.
If you're outside this time period, you can proceed — albeit with caution. Bats typically leave through the opening they found at dusk. When you think they've all left, place bird netting or clear plastic sheeting over their escape route. You don't want it to be completely tight. It should cover the holes, so the bats can't get back inside your home. However, if there are still bats inside your home, they need to be able to crawl out the hole and push past the material.
It's also important to cover all potential entrances. The bats might circle your home and look for different ways inside if you block their main entrance. When you're sure all the bats are out of your home, you'll need to block the entrances permanently.
Professional bat removal averages $1,100, but costs can range from $225 to $2,000. The size of the bat colony in your structure is a major factor in the cost. A large colony requires more work and will cost more to remove. Each vent or hole that needs to be sealed will increase the price, but it's an important investment since it keeps the bats from getting back into your home.
Cleanup can also be expensive — usually around $500 if you hire a professional. They have to carefully remove the droppings and sanitize the space, as well as replace insulation if it's affected. It might be tempting to save the money and remove the bats yourself, but professional bat removal is safer, especially if you have a large infestation.
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