Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Bat in the House

My neighbor, Vicki, called this morning.   I hate to bother you, she said, but I have a problem and I need your advice.  I've had three bats in the house the past week.  I can't believe I'm the only person with this problem.  What can I do about it?

Vicki lives in a relatively new log cabin (with a sloping metal roof).   The bats, probably Big Browns (Eptesicus fuscus), found the conditions (temperature and humidity) between her metal roof and the wood beneath it - just right for raising pups.

The bats probably got in through a tiny gap in the outside soffits - and voila! - the log cabin was transformed into a bat nursery.

Having bats around is actually a very good thing.  They go out at night and eat moths and other nocturnal insects, then turn them into nitrogen-rich fertilizer (guano).

But the recent record-breaking temperatures have created a problem for the bats.  When it gets too hot for them, a juvenile bat looking for a cooler roost falls through a tiny gap between the roof and ceiling - and ends up in the living room.   From the bat's perspective - it can become a frightening "Alice in Wonderland" experience.  From the human's perspective - it can become a frightening "trapped in a room with a bat" experience.

So, what's a homeowner to do?

Recalling what little she'd heard about bats throughout her life, Vicki admitted she was afraid of the health risks (rabies).  She didn't want to kill them, but she needed some reassurance.

After I explained the facts about rabies, the statistics and the risks, she decided the best thing to do is "help" the bats find their way back outside.

Here's what to do:

Turn off the fan.
Open the interior (and exterior) doors and windows/screens - to create a draft.
Turn on the lights (so both you and the bat can see better).
Stand by a wall.
Wait for the bat to land.

Don't hit it with a broom.  Put a thick towel in your hands.

When it lands - talk to it gently (think:  dog whisperer) as you approach.

Cover it with the towel and gently scoop it up.  Take the towel (and bat) outdoors and put it on a table, fence post or tree branch.  The bat will crawl out and fly away.

Both of you can survive - unscathed.

Consider yourself fortunate to see bats in your neighborhood.  Check out this link about regional extinction of bats.

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