As much as some people are frightened of bats, we love them. They are truly a unique animal. Contrary to the belief that these insect eaters are “flying rats” (they would take offense!) bats belong to their own, unique order of mammals. They actually play key roles in ecosystems around the world (including here in Washington State) where they are beneficial to agriculture, insect control (including mosquitoes), and medical research. They do, however, pose a risk to health due to their potential to carry and transmit rabies. Statistically rabies is 100% fatal in all warm-blooded mammals. Therefore, encounters with bats should not be taken lightly. The Washington State Department of Health reports that between 5-10% of bats submitted for testing are found to be rabid. The bats tested for rabies are a skewed population of sick and injured bats; less than 1% of healthy bats are infected with rabies.
Nevertheless, bats are not to be ignored if they’ve decided to share your residence with you. Besides the small risk of rabies, bats will trash an attic with droppings, urine and other damage, or pile up their droppings on your porch as they hang outside.
What do you do about a bat that’s decided to take up residence in your attic? Or worse yet, actually somewhere in the living space of the house? First off, don’t panic–bats normally aren’t aggressive unless you come into very close contact. If a bat is trapped somewhere in your living space, try to seal off that particular room while giving it a chance to escape out a window. Often, they will take that opportunity. If they are not leaving or there is no window nearby, call Whitworth Pest Solutions and we can come out to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. Often, we can catch the bat and release it without harming it. Then we can determine how it got into your house in the first place and recommend a fix. Never pick up a bat with your bare hands, dead or alive.
If a bat is acting strange or sick, do not come into contact with it. Call a professional. NOTE: If you have woken up and discovered a bat in your bedroom or the bedroom of a family member, contact a physician or the health department to determine if that family member should see a doctor to be checked out.
The best way to “control” bats is to keep them entering your home. Seal all gaps around your home (or business), especially the roofline (as you would for rodents). A bat is much like a house mouse, in that it can squeeze through a gap as narrow as 3/8 inch, making any inpsection very tricky. These gaps may be under siding, flashing, roofing, openings under eaves, around windows or doors, chimneys, or where electrical and plumbing lines go through walls.
Complicated fixes may require the services of a roofer or other contractor. Often, Whitworth Pest Solutions can locate and fix points of entry at a reaonable price–and save you the headache of having to deal with a “bat in the belfry.” The best time to perform this exclusion work is in the fall and winter, when many of our Northern bats migrate to warmer areas as it gets cold–thus lowering the chance that a stray bat will get sealed in after the exclusion work is performed. Hope this helped–and good luck with all of your bat encounters.
By the way–this method of controlling bats–won’t work!