Bat Removal and Control — How to Get Rid of Bats in a House or Building
Bat Removal and Control
- 1 Bat Removal and Control
- 2 How to Get Rid of Bats
- 3 How To: Get Rid of Bats
- 4 When bats takes up residence under your roof, you’re in danger of more than merely foul odors. Be rid of your unwanted guests by following these steps.
|Bats are usually classified as a pest species due to their habits of living in houses. The most common complaints include the following:
For these reasons, many people wish to have colonies of bats removed from the building. Please be aware that this is a specialty service.
Since it’s a very common problem, I have here an advice article with photos on how to get bats out of the attic. If you just have a single bat (or two) flying around inside your house and you need to get it outside safely, read my bat in the house page. I have also written a page about how to get rid of bats in the chimney. Below is a short guide about getting bats out of buildings. Please read the advice and click on the supplemental information. In the end, I have to be very honest with you — it’s not easy work, especially for beginners. I myself did several dozen bat jobs, and made many big mistakes, before I got good at it. If you need bat removal, for the sake of your health, property, and even for the sake of the bats, please consider hiring a professional. My list is probably the best resource of bat control experts in the country, because I’ve researched it myself.
Bat Removal — How To Get Bats Out of Buildings
Step 1: Perform a full inspection of the building. This is to determine exactly how the bats are getting in and out. Click here to read more about how to do a bat inspection.
Step 2: Perform an attic inspection, and learn to identify the species of bat. This is important because different bats have different birthing and hibernating seasons. Read more here on my colonizing bat species page.
Step 3: Exclude the bats — DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRAP THEM. Read here why you should not try to do bat trapping, but rather bat exclusion, which is the process of letting them fly out, but not back in, to the building.
Step 4: Seal up the house to keep bats out permanently. In fact, much of this is done prior to the exclusion — just be sure not to seal up the primary exit points while any bats are inside!! Read more about how to seal up the building properly on my bat prevention page.
Step 5: Clean the attic or walls, or space where the bats lived and defecated. Read more on my how to clean bat guano page.
A while back, I made these instructions on how to get bats out of buildings for a friend starting his own wildlife removal business, and it’ll also be helpful, with many good photos and instructions.
BAT BIOLOGY: North America is home to many species of bats, but these are the three most common nuisance (colonizing) species in the US: First is the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) which is common in most of the US, especially the more northward states. These bats are small, with a wingspan of 8 inches, and a weight of less than half an ounce. The females form large maternity colonies, often in buildings such as attics or barns. Young are born in June, and can fly by August. They can live up to 30 years apparently, though average lifespan in the wild may be about 7 years. They hibernate in the winter. The Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) is also common in the northern areas. It has a wingspan up to 13 inches, and can live up to 19 years in the wild. They mate in October, before winter hibernation, and after a delayed fertilization and a 60 day gestation, give birth to one or two baby bats in early June. The Mexican Free-Tail Bat Tadarida brasiliensis is common in the south. It has a wingspan of about 8 inches, a weight of half an ounce, and can live up to 16 years. These bats will form huge colonies, up to several million members in some cases. They mate in the fall, but delay fertilization, and one pup is born in early June, and can fly about eight weeks later. All of these bats often roost in man-made buildings, and love the attics of homes. None of these animals are actually blind, but they do use echolocation in order to aid in navigation on the wing. They are all insectivorous, catching insects on the wing. Read About Colonizing Bats species info.
BAT BEHAVIOR: Bats are nocturnal. They sleep in roosts during the daytime, and emerge at dusk. If it’s a colony of bats living in a building, they crawl to the edge, and fly out. First they head for water and get a drink, skimming the surface on the wing. They then feast on flying insects, primarily moths and beetles. After a while they get full and head back to the roost in order to rest. They then fly back out to feed some more. They may make several trips per night. Bats use echolocation in order to aid in navigation and feeding on the wing. They emit high-pitched chirps and read the sonar-like returns of the sound waves as they bounce back off of objects. Roosting preference depends on the species and even gender of the bats, but we are only concerned with colonizing bats such as the three mentioned above. These colonies are composed primarily of females. The males roost alone in solitary areas, such as trees. The females form huge clusters, very frequently in man-made architecture such as church towers, attics, bridges, etc. They tolerate and even prefer very high temperatures. Many of the southern bats migrate to different areas as climates change. However, bats in the north hibernate in colder weather.
NUISANCE CONCERNS: The primary concern involves large colonies. If it’s just a few bats, it may not be a big deal. However, if you’ve got a typical maternity colony of bats in your home or building or even barn, it can be a big problem. A large colony is not only noisy and unsettling at dusk and dawn as swarms of bats fly in and out, but the main problem is that they leave their droppings and urine behind. With a large colony of bats, this really adds up. After a while large piles of droppings form. Not only do the droppings and urine corrode wood/metal, but the weight of them can collapse the ceiling below the attic — I’ve seen if a few times. The waste has a foul odor, but it can also grow fungal spores that people can breathe in, leading to the lung disease Histoplasmosis. How Dangerous Are Bat Droppings?
BAT DISEASES: I’ve already discussed Histoplasmosis, a fungal infection of the lungs that results from the fungus that grows on nitrogen-rich bat droppings, but it’s also important to keep in mind the fact that the majority of the cases of rabies transmission in the United States have come from bats. Read about How Many Bats Have Rabies? The higher rate of infection may be because people are less cautious around bats than say, rabid raccoons, or because bats are very small and can bite and infect people in their sleep. Or perhaps the particular strain of rabies that bats or certain species of bats carry is more likely to infect people. Regardless, if you see a sick bat on the ground, don’t pick it up, because you might get bitten! Read about What If You Are Bitten By A Bat
HOW DO I GET RID OF BATS? Bat removal is not a simple task. There is no effective bat repellent for example that can do the job easily. The proper way to get rid of them is to exclude the colony — seal off 100% of possible secondary entry points on the home and remove all of the bats from the building safely. It is often very challenging, and it must be done just the right way. An amateur attempt, by someone with no experience, or worse, a pest control company that uses bat poison, could result in disaster — dead, rotting bats, and bats swarming throughout the walls and the home. How to get rid of bats in a building — read the above articles, which describe how to seal up all auxiliary entry points, install one-way exclusion removal devices on the primary bat entry and exit holes into the house or building, and even clean the mess afterward.
CAN’T I JUST USE A REPELLENT? There is no registered or effective bat repellent available. Some companies will try to sell anything — there’s a lot of so-called bat-repellent or bat-away products on the market, but they are bogus. And those high-pitch noisemakers? The FTC has issued a warning against them — ultrasonic sound emitters do not work. There is no quick and easy fix when it comes to bat control. It’s best to have a professional with years of experience take care of the problem.
Bat Email From Reader: Hi David, I found your site to be very informative and interesting. I do, however, have one question that I didn’t see addressed on your site; can/do bats live in walls? I am a Maine resident and I am without a doubt certain that I have something living in my walls. I’m pretty sure they are there year round, and a very strong odor has developed in the bedroom. I am aware that there are bats in my attic as I have seen them flying in there and each year I receive friendly visits inside my home on two or more occasions usually around July/August. I was led to believe that bats in Maine migrate south in the Fall; however, I have seen bats flying in my attic during the winter months as well. I’m concerned that the guests I have in my walls are not bats, but rather something of a larger size. Regardless of what is actually in the walls, is it possible to remove nests and droppings from walls without totally demolishing the home? I am considering requesting an estimate for removal from the one company that I am able to locate in the Augusta, Maine area from your link; however, how does one know if a company is experienced, effective and trustworthy such as yourself? I appreciate any guidance or suggestions you can offer. Thanks again for the great information and photo’s you have provided on your site. Laurie
My Response: Bats do often live in walls. The fly into a gap, and will roost in very tight areas, including walls. A strong odor is a good indicator that the animals are bats. I do trust the company that I’ve listed in Maine to do the job well, and it never hurts to get an estimate, but in the end, I guess you’ve got to make your own decision on who to hire. Remember, don’t hire anyone who would tell you how to kill a bat — bats are most effectively removed alive.
How to Get Rid of Bats
SIX STEPS TO GET RID OF BATS:
- STEP 1 — Inspect inside the attic, and observe the house at dusk and danw, to identify the species of bat and the entry and exit holes they use to enter the building.
- STEP 2 — Climb a ladder and climnb the roof and identify all entry holes and gaps, as small as 3/8″. Seal most of these areas shut with caulk or other sealant. Leave the primary exit holes open.
- STEP 3 — Install the appropriate one-way exclusion doors on the primary exit holes. Could be funnels, screens, or nets depending on architecture. The bats must be able to fly out but not back in.
- STEP 4 — Watch the bats at dusk and dawn, to ensure that they can properly get out, but not back in. If there’s a problem, remove the one-way doors immediately, and re-position after a day or two.
- STEP 5 — Leave the functional exclusion up for at least 3 days. Once you are certain all the bats are out, remove the exclusion devices and seal the holes and gaps shut.
- STEP 6 — Clean and decontaminate the attic. Remove all guano, and fog or spray with an enzyme cleaner.
How to Get Rid of Bats in the Attic
Bats in the attic are usually female bats looking for a safe place to raise their young. There are a lot of legal issues when it comes to bat removal, and this is one situation that is best left to the professionals. Bat colonies are protected by law and cannot be killed or relocated. The best way to eliminate bats from an attic is by installing a one way door which will let the bats exit the building but not re-enter. This process may seem simple, but it cannot be done when baby bats are present or you will have a number of baby bats starving to death inside your attic. Bats will remain in a roost year round if it is warm enough, and if not, they will migrate away but return in the spring. This is why is it so important to seal up your attic so bats cannot enter and become nuisances.
How to Get Rid of Bats in the Basement
Basements are similar to caves; dark and usually a constant temperature. Bat colonies are drawn to this type of environment. Once they find a roost, bats are reluctant to leave and they will return to the roost every year if it is accessible. Preventing access is the only real method of bat control since the animals are protected by a number of laws and regulations. You cannot legally kill bats and they cannot be trapped and relocated. So what does this mean for bat removal? The only effective means of bat removal is the installation of a one way door at the exit points of the basement. The adult bats will be able to leave but won’t be able to return. Potential complications with this involve the presence of baby bats. Baby bats won’t leave the basement with the adults and if the adults can’t return, the baby bats will eventually die. In large colonies, this can mean hundreds of dead baby bats decomposing in your basement. For effective bat removal, it is recommended that you employ the expertise of a professional to help minimize this type of dilemma.
How to Get Rid of Bats in the House
A trapped bat in the home is not uncommon, especially during the warm summer months when homeowners leave windows open after dark. If a bat has flown into your home, do not swat the animal with a broom or other tool, and do not sic your house cat on it. Pick a room in your home with large windows. Turning off the lights, guide the bat into the chosen area, opening all the windows. Leave the bat in there for the night. Chances are the animal will be gone in the morning. If the bat is injured while in your home or is reluctant to move or fly, place a vented box or container over the rodent and call a wildlife rehabilitator. Do not handle the bat. In many areas of the country bats are the primary carrier of rabies. Handling a bat unnecessarily can result in potential health concerns. Most counties will require you to report bat exposures and may require the bat to be euthanized and tested to the virus.
How to Get Rid of Bats in the Barn
Barns are another primary place for bats to set up residence. Barns often have high roofs with lots of beams and hidden places. Hay lofts are only disturbed once or twice yearly, making the rafters dark and dusty roost areas. Bats in the barn can be very difficult to remove because of the nature of the barn itself. Most livestock sheds are left open for the large animals to come into at will. This open-all-the-time policy can make bat control impossible. For bats in the barn, the barn must be able to be sealed during the hours of bat activity: dusk and dawn. The doors of a barn are not usually the exit points for bats. Watching where the rodents emerge from the building will key you into where your one way door trap needs to be installed. Excluding bats from the barn is the only way to eliminate them. Bats cannot be poisoned and they cannot be trapped and relocated. Legally, bat colonies are protected and can’t be moved or killed. This makes bat control difficult. Most bat situations warrant the help of a professional. Even if you are able to install the one way doors to keep the adults from coming back, baby bats left behind can cause serious problems when they crawl into corners and die. A professional will be able to tell if baby bats are present and will be equipped to go in and removed the entire colony.
Go back to the main Bat Removal page for more information about how to get rid of bats. You might also want to read these articles I wrote after years of experience with these creatures. Learn what to do about Bats in the Attic and whether Bats are Dangerous. Read my advice on How To Get Rid of Bats and what to do about a Bat in Your House or your Chimney. Learn about Bat Boxes and the Bat Maternity Season.
Learn from me the best methods of Bat Prevention and the different Diseases bats can carry. Learn about their Feces and when necessary How to Kill a Bat. Learn about Bat Repellents and how to Trap a Bat. Protect yourself from Diseases Bats Carry and learn what areas of the house bats typically enter through. Find out how to keep bats out of a Barn, and whether or not you should ver trap a Bat in a Cage.
Learn the Biology of Big Brown Bat, the Biology of Little Brown Bat, and the Biology of Mexican Free tail Bat. Find out if bats are really blind, and if they will chew on wires. Read what to do with a bat after you Catch It in your House, and what to do about a bat stuck in the Fireplace. Learn about bat maternity colonies and how bats communicate, as well as if repellents will get a bat out of your attic.
How to get rid of bats in buildings: Having bats in a building is a complicated and serious issue when you compare it to other nuisance wildlife problems that you can face. In order to handle the issue properly, you need to determine what bat species inhabit your attic, ensure there aren’t any baby bats, and then find out what is the best way of safely removing the bats from the attic. You need to handle the entire colony if you are to eradicate the problem completely. Once they have been removed, sealing the openings and thoroughly cleaning the attic should be done to totally eliminate the threat that lies within.
Even though the process above has been laid out with such simplicity, it is usually a very detail oriented and complex process that has to be done and done well. Even people with experience may find that they are having a difficult time dealing with the problem.
The process isn’t simple, but with the correct ideas and tools, you should be able to handle the infestation in the easiest possible way. You will have to find the entry and exit points that the bats are using to enter the attic area. You should seal out the holes, leaving only one. The biggest hole is the best one to leave open and then place a one way device over it. In this way, the bats are able to fly out but they cannot make their way back in. You should never carry out this process in cases where there are baby bats or you will be dealing with an even bigger issue. It is also against the law in most places.
The reason why you should never eliminate the bats while there are young ones involved is due to the fact that they are not able to crawl out of the exit hole and they cannot fly yet. They are also dependent on the mothers until such a time that they are weaned and are able to go out and forage for themselves. If left in the attic without the adults, they will get dehydrated, starve to death, or even crawl in other parts of the house and die there, creating a serious stench.
The best one way exclusion has to be made to perfection for it to work well. Once all the bats have moved from the attic, seal out all the holes and do a thorough cleaning of the attic. Always wear protective clothing when doing this.
How To: Get Rid of Bats
When bats takes up residence under your roof, you’re in danger of more than merely foul odors. Be rid of your unwanted guests by following these steps.
The good news: Bats are not aggressive. The bad news: If there are bats in your house, it’s only a matter of time before their waste begins to pose a serious problem.
Health concerns aside—and there are indeed viable health concerns—bat droppings and urine can actually destroy wood and other building materials, gradually compromising the structural integrity of your home.
So even if you are not skittish and don’t mind the idea of bats dwelling under your roof, there are very good, rational reasons to act fast. Follow the steps outlined below about how to get rid of bats and prevent them from returning.
- Research local laws and consider installing a bat house on your property.
- Identify the type of bat you’re dealing with (and if it’s maternity season for that bat type, put your effort on pause temporarily).
- Locate the bats’ entry point to your home. – Seal the opening with a oneway valve or tube.
- Clean the vacated space thoroughly.
Continue reading for tips and full instructions on ridding your home of bats, once and for all.
STEP 1: Research local laws
Familiarize yourself with local laws. In most states, bats are a protected species, which means that it’s illegal to kill them. One humane approach is to install a bat house on your property prior to evicting your unwanted guests. Chances are that once barred entry to your home, the bats would take up residence in the new accommodations you’ve prepared. From there, you could count on the bats to continue their beneficial service of eating the insects on your property.
STEP 2: Identify the bat type
When you’re trying to get rid of bats, it’s essential to figure out what type of bat you’re dealing with. So the first thing to do is learn what types of bats are common in your neck of the woods. Next, try to get a good look at the bats, if you haven’t already, so you can compare your observations to your research. Vampire aficionados could easily guess that your best chances of seeing a bat are at dusk and dawn.
Once you know what kind of bats are in your house, you can move on to determining whether or not it’s maternity season for that particular species. If you prevent the mother bat from regaining entry to your house while the babies are still inside, those babies are going to die. And no matter how you feel about that, you’re definitely not going to like how it smells. So if it’s maternity season, wait it out.
STEP 3: Determine bats’ entry point
Sure that maternity season is over or has not begun yet? OK—time to get serious. Watch your home closely at dusk or dawn, with the aim of pinpointing where exactly the bats are entering and exiting your home. Bear in mind that a bat colony usually has more than one access point, and these can be as small as a half-inch. You may need more than one evening to locate the different openings being used.
STEP 4: Seal the opening
Cover each distinct opening with a one-way exit valve, one-way tube, or even just anti-bird netting, which you can buy online at low cost (and which couldn’t be easier to use). The ingeniousness of these designs is that, while they allow bats to exit the house with ease, they provide no way for the bats to return. If your chosen device seems to be working, leave it in place for a period of about three days.
STEP 5: Clean, clean, clean
Once there are no more bats left inside, you have a messy job on your hand. Inevitably, the bats will have left droppings and urine in their wake. When cleaning, it’s imperative that you wear the proper protective gear—full-sleeve clothing, work gloves, and a respirator. In fact, think seriously about hiring a professional cleanup crew. Once the area is no longer toxic, proceed to seal all the holes you identified.