bats in my house--help!
September 17, 2009 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Bats keep showing up either alive or dead in various places in my house.

I do not know how they are getting in, but my house is a two-story home and it is an older home (from the 30's). I travel a lot, so I am hardly ever actually at my home and nobody else has access to it. It is so disgusting to come home to dead bats, which I'm assuming may carry disease. Bats have shown up in my home throughout the years, but never this often. In the past six months, I've found a dead one on my bed and one in the pantry and one dead in front of the refrigerator. Does this have anything to do with the fact that I got a new roof and siding a couple years ago? The contractors were not insured and I wonder if they didn't seal something up when they finally got the job completed. I cannot imagine how the bats are finding their way into my house! Would you have advice for me? I really don't know where to start, or which type of professional to contact.
posted by mamaraks to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
Do you have a fireplace? If so make sure the flue is closed.
posted by Gungho at 11:24 AM on September 17, 2009

It could be open vents in your roof joists. I rented a house a few years ago that was mysteriously visited by bats, and this turned out to be the culprit. It's not necessarily the roofer's fault, as the slats look so narrow that it seems impossible anything could get in, but small birds and bats often do. The solution is to have screens installed behind the vents that allow air to get out and keep bats and birds from getting in.

Bonus points: bats are a protected species in some states (mine, NC, included) so many times roofers and even animal control can't do anything until they've left for the season. Extra bonus points: bats roost for life, meaning they'll come back again and again to the same places if they find little or no resistance to their being there. It's best to jump on it now if you plan to stay in the house (bat-free, anyway.)

And that's everything I know about bats :) Good luck.
posted by littlerobothead at 12:04 PM on September 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

The only thing I know about bat is that they can squeeze through what looks like an impossibly small space. How about putting up a bat motel in the garden? It's like a bird house, but it has open sides and looks more like a toast rack than a bird house.
posted by x46 at 12:07 PM on September 17, 2009

Bats can carry rabies. If there are dead bats, there are likely live ones. Get this taken care of ASAP.
posted by mareli at 12:26 PM on September 17, 2009

Be careful! bats can carry rabies!.
posted by dhn at 12:33 PM on September 17, 2009

Bats can carry rabies. I had bats in my silo when I was growing up that were rabid. Consult your local health department and ask them what to do.
posted by jessamyn at 1:41 PM on September 17, 2009

The professional you want to call is an exterminator.

Ask around for referrals. Do you have any friends that own apartment buildings? Apartment building owners often know who the most reputable exterminators are.

Specifically, you want someone who will identify and seal up those little cracks that allow the bats access, plus clear out the bat poop and any dead bats. A warranty would be good in case they miss access points.

I think bat poop is some kind of hazard, eh, so do hire a professional. Also, I think bats have mites and fleas. I'm not trying to alarm you, just telling you this isn't something you want to put off.
posted by jbenben at 1:45 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nope, no fireplace. Thanks for all the awesome suggestions everybody!
posted by mamaraks at 2:34 PM on September 17, 2009

It's possible that there's something like white nose syndrome going on. Check the dead bats for signs of it, notably fuzzy white patches around the nose, ears, or wings. It's fucked up and sad, really.
posted by Red Loop at 2:35 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

i just had bats removed from my attic this summer. the above rabies warnings are all correct but the proper way to remove bats is via 'exclusion' not extermination.

i had a professional do my exclusion and cleanup and while it looks simple, the idea of disturbing a colony of bats 2 feet away doesn't rank highly on my do-before-i-die list.

basically they put a large screen over all the access points (i.e. the roof vents at your gables) with a pvc tube for the bats to get out of the attic. as long as they screened all the access points, they won't be able to get back in through the tube.

after a couple of days all of the bats will be outside your house and they can come back and repair/replace the screen inside your gable vents so the bats can't get back in. you can also hire them to clean up the guano, which is rather toxic.

for future seasons, note that bats have babies from june-august (will vary slightly by climate) and you will not be able to do an exclusion during these times.

one final note - after you've gotten rid of the bats you might want to let your immediate neighbors know that you have done. the bats will almost certainly move into the nearest attic they can get into.
posted by noloveforned at 3:58 PM on September 17, 2009

oh, and exclusion does not run afoul of state laws protecting bats, since you're not killing them.
posted by noloveforned at 3:59 PM on September 17, 2009

Please consider other methods before you call the exterminator. Bat populations are declining rapidly in part because humans overreact to their presence. Yes, they can carry rabies and you certainly don't want them in your house, but it is very rare for a person to die of rabies contracted from a bat.

Here's the section on bat exclusion from Bat Conservation International, including listings of professional excluders. Here's their contact page as well.
posted by lemuria at 6:52 PM on September 17, 2009

Lemuria gives the best advice. Check out the Bat Conservation International (BCI) web site. They are the BEST resource for bat management issues. Contract with a professional excluder from the BCI list. If there is no one near you, phone BCI and get advice. Don't use the yellow pages to find an excluder. They may not be properly trained. Anyone can hang up a shingle. You can also try some of the DIY exclusion techniques provided on the BCI web site.

Do you live in the US?
Bats are vulnerable animals, especially in the northeast. They need to be properly excluded at the right time of year. They are wonderful useful animals. But not good to have them in your home. Act soon.
posted by valannc at 9:42 AM on September 21, 2009

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