Bats in the Belfry

By Benjamin Isip / September 6, 2013

[Bats nest wherever they can find; please take care when dealing with them.]

Did you know that there is a “bat season” in Florida? It’s not a hunting season, where you’ll see hunters roaming around at twilight looking for them. It’s a maternity season, where they look for safe places to nest and raise their young. In an urban environment, they will roost inside buildings, find holes in stucco, invade attics, or even fly through open windows. Sometimes, bat nests in a building may not cause any real problems and may be small enough to go unnoticed for years. Other times, they will breed tremendous numbers and become quite a nuisance.

Homeowners should not attempt to poison or otherwise exterminate bats themselves. To begin with, bats are considered a threatened species in Florida, whose numbers are dwindling due to urban development of natural habitats where they once lived and consumed many harmful insects. It’s illegal to willfully kill bats in Florida. Also, remember that just like any other animal, a bat may bite to protect itself if threatened. If anyone is bitten by a bat, they need to seek medical attention immediately because the most common way for people to get rabies in the United States is through contact with a bat. Finally, “self help” remedies like extermination or just plugging entry holes are not effective. These cause bats to flee into inaccessible areas, where they may die, and causing further problems in the home.

Each species poses its own bat removal challenge, so trained professionals should be contracted with to handle the issue. Bats are relentless, which is why it can be helpful to hire a professional to not only 
humanely remove the bats but to examine and repair entry points of your home to eliminate the chance of future bat infestation. A trained specialist will be able to install one-way exclusion devices to allow the bats to safely leave your home before permanent repairs are made to keep them out for good. Because baby bats cannot fly to leave their nest, exclusions cannot be performed during maternity season, which is from April 15th to August 15th.

Homeowners should take action right away if they think that they have a bat infestation. The longer that bats roost in a home, the more likely that there will be an odor and accumulation of bat guano. Though there have been no cases of illness due to this in Florida, removing the smell can be costly if bats are left to breed for years.

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