There’s a Bat in My House! What Do I Do?…

Bat in the House!!! Wait! There’s no need to panicyou can remove him or her safely and humanely.

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Did you know that bats are the only flying mammals on Earth? They include more than 1,300 different type of species distributed across six continents. With a nocturnal lifestyle, they are often thought of as being rare, when in actuality they are abundant and widespread worldwide.

Bats are misunderstood by humans who often have a negative perception of them. Some of us even associate them with blood-sucking vampires, when out of all species of bats only three feed from the blood of animals other than humans. All others are either insectivores, frugivores or nectar-feeders. Similarly, many people are unaware of the critical role that bats play in many environments around the world. Some plants depend partly or wholly on bats to pollinate their flowers or spread their seeds, while other bats act as a natural pest control by eating insects.

Sometimes bats can get in our living quarters, either by mistake or because our home attics or dark corners can be attractive to some species for roosting. If this happens, knowing what to do is key to helping them get safely back outside. Here are a few essentials to get you started…

Preventing Bats from Getting In

☒ Check your chimney and fill gaps and vents where bats might enter. Check your roof and the siding of your house and note if there are any potential entry points. It is recommended that any opening larger than a quarter inch by a half inch be closed, while electrical or plumbing holes may be filled with steel wool.

☒ Keep screens on windows and doors, and keep basement doors closed at night.

Bats & Health…

Bats, like any other form of wildlife, may potentially carry infectious diseases such as rabies. Pets without shots or updated shots are at risk if bitten so it is important to take caution and separate your pets immediately if you suspect one has been bitten by a bat. However, it is important to note that most bats do not have rabies. Among 25,799 bats submitted for rabies testing by the CDC in a 2015 report, only 6.6% were confirmed rabid.

If a Bat is in Your House

There is a seasonality factor to be aware of when removing bats from your home. Summer is maternity season and many young bats are unable to fly. Removing the mothers from your home could leave the pups vulnerable and trapped inside. Also, don’t put a bat outdoors in winter as it will die. If possible, try to avoid removal during these times and contact your local wildlife agency for help handling the situation.

Do not panic. The bat got in and often can get out in a peaceful and safe manner.

Also, read the EwA Bat Etiquette to understand more about them and learn about what to do or not do when in their presence to maximize both your safety and theirs.

☒ Get kids and pets out of the room.

☒ Close all inside doors (connecting to rooms) to isolate the bat to one area of your house.

☒ Open exit doors and windows in that room, dim the lights but leave them on, to let the bat finds its way out on its own.

☒ Remain quiet, watch, and hopefully, it will get out. Once out, close the exits.

From Guiding the Bat Out to Handling It

Never try to handle a bat with your bare hands!

Wear thick gloves (made of leather or any other sturdy material) to protect yourself from potential scratches and bites. Again, remain quiet and follow the recommendations below. Don’t handle the bat yourself if you are unsure of what to do, or if have any hesitation about your ability to do it without harming it. When in doubt, seek professional help for your sake and for the sake of the bat.

© Chris Richardson

If you feel comfortable handling the bat yourself, there are several options for helping it to get out of your home.

☒ Use a sheet, and with the help of another person hold it up as high as possible so as to guide the bat towards the open windows and doors while minimizing its flight space [more…].

☒ Take a large Tupperware or container, preferably a see-through one so that you can make sure that you haven’t hurt the bat. When it lands, place the container over the bat. Slowly slide a piece of strong paper such as cardboard underneath. Bring the container outside and simply remove the paper binding, releasing the bat.

☒ Use a tea cloth, lightweight towel, or sheet and gently place it over the bat. A heavy blanket and or towel could add too much weight on a bat’s small frame since they have fragile wings and bones. Carefully pick up the edges and corners of the cloth with the bat inside. Bring it outside and lay it gently on the ground. Then, slowly open the cloth to let the bat go free.

ℹ️ For more information, you can visit Bat Conservation International.

References & Further Reading

The EwA Bat Rules

Bat Conservation International

The Art & Science of Bats – Bat Facts (Smithsonian)

Living with Wildlife – Bat Facts (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Apr, 10th 2019 | by  Xaelel Allen-Caballero 

The photos in this article are either published under a creative commons license, labeled for non-commercial reuse (with or without modification) or are directly linked to their source. Thanks to Chris Richardson (Biologist at Lesley University) for helping us put this tip together.

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◊ First published Apr 10th, 2019 | Our tips are regularly revised and improved.

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