Habits of Bats
During warm weather, bats feed on flying insects in the late afternoon and early morning. They are not normally active during bright daylight. If you see a bat during daylight hours it has either been disturbed from its roost or it is sick!
When not in flight, they rest in dark hiding and roosting places; caves, buildings, and hollow trees. Bats are able to enter these places through holes as small as 3/8" in diameter or just slightly larger than a pencil.
Bats locate and capture insects by the use of echolocation; they emit a high-frequency sound inaudible to humans, it's similar to sonar. They communicate with each other by making squeaking sounds.
Most bats either migrate or hibernate when the weather turns cold. They breed from late spring to early summer and the young can fly in 3-7 weeks.
Bats are associated with a few diseases that affect people; Rabies and Histoplasmosis.
1. Always wear heavy leather gloves when handling bats.
2. If bitten, capture the bat without crushing its head.
3. Refrigerate it, but DON"T freeze it!
4. Take it to the nearest Health Department for testing.
5. Use care when working in bat roosting sites; dust masks,
coveralls, and gloves are a must!
Entry and Exit points
Loose flashing, vents, shingles, or siding.
Openings under eaves and soffits, at cornices, louvers, and doors, by chimneys and windows and where pipes and wires enter the building.
Eyes, Ears, and Nose Work
Look for droppings under openings, smudges around holes, and odors that seem concentrated in certain areas.
Look for bats exiting an hour before to an hour after sunset. Try to observe all sides of the roof.
Listen for squeaking just prior to the bats taking flight.
If it is rainy or chilly they may not come out.
Look in attics and unused rooms during daylight.
Look inside chimneys and vents.
Look behind shutters.
Look for bat droppings. They will be found below roosting sites. The droppings look like mouse droppings but they are slightly bigger and look shiny (they contain wings, legs, and other insect body parts).
1. June, July, and August are when the young are being reared and may crawl or flutter into your living space. Work on sealing interior cracks during this time.
2. Late fall to early spring is the best time to bat-proof the exterior of a building. If it must be done before then wait at least until early September depending on the weather.
3. Carefully determine the bats' exit and entrance holes, leave these open until you have filled all the other cracks.
4. Attach netting above the remaining holes, allowing it to drape down over the hole. Wait at least three nights or more and then seal the remaining holes.
5. Bat-proofing done incorrectly will trap the bats inside causing them to die, rot and smell.
Bats, friend or foe?
The answer to that question is simple if you've ever woke up to a bat flying through your home on a warm summer's night. They instill fear into the hearts of grown men and women, but honestly, they are more afraid of us than we are of them. Most human/bat encounters are with young bats (yes, I know, they are huge when they are flying at lightning-speed back and forth in your house) that have accidentally taken a wrong turn on their way out for the evening bug hunt. Haven't you ever taken a wrong turn in an unfamiliar city only to find yourself in the wrong part of town? Now you understand how that bat feels, however, I doubt you had a giant chasing you around and throwing things at you while you were trying to get the heck out of Dodge.
Bats have a great purpose in the world, they eat bugs at astonishing rates. One Little Brown Bat can eat 600-1,000 mosquitoes in an hour and the increase in West Nile incidents actually increases a bat's value as the supreme pest control operator. If you are lucky enough to have a bat nursery (female bats gather together to rear their young) in your area you are truly blessed. Certain bats also pollinate trees, shrubs, and flowers. Without these bats, our forests would be less diversified and we'd lose certain species of plant life altogether. Other bats are fruit-eating and help by seed-dispersing, thus ensuring that certain fruit trees don't become extinct.
Now that you understand a little bit more about why bats are so important to our survival, it will be easier for you to understand why it's important to learn how to live in peace with bats.
The first step is to take the necessary steps to bat-proof the interior of your home/building if you find yourself with an unexpected visitor. While bats are protected, a bat that enters your home is considered a threat and can be disposed of if necessary, bat-proofing your home will reduce the likelihood that you'll have to make that choice in the middle of the night. An ounce of prevention goes a long way when it comes to bats, plus it will help you avoid the unpleasantries of undergoing Rabies shots. To my dismay, I've recently learned that our local health department recommends that any and all parties in a house have rabies shots if they have had a bat inside the home, even without a confirmed bite! Note that I said they recommend, not insist. Remember that ounce of prevention, a weekend playing a little game of finding the cracks and sealing them is sounding better already, isn't it?
If you're not sure if your house does double duty as a bat house, gather your family and/or friends and spend a few evenings outside at dusk, gazing at your house. Bats have to have water (most of which they get from their food) every 48-72 hours, so if your house does have bats roosting in the attic, soffit, roof, behind shutters, or in the walls, sooner or later you'll see them come and go if you look for them. If you see them fly from your house/building then you need to be patient, wait until the season (young are all flying) is right, and then proceed with excluding them. If no bats are sighted, then you should still follow the procedure, unless you'd like bats to move into your home, which will happen in due time if they view your home as being favorable to their needs.
White-Nosed Syndrome: Bats
White-nose Syndrome in bats is threatening to
destroy whole colonies of bats or even worse.
Why is this important to you?
Bats consume large numbers of crop and timber-damaging insects. Fewer bats mean more insects, more crop damage, and higher costs for everyone. Higher costs for other means of controlling crop-damaging insects mean an overall increase in prices for the consumer as the goods reach the stores. As WNS continues to spread, we risk losing entire species of bats, such as the already endangered Indiana bat and many others. To date over 1,000,000 bats have already died from this disease just in the northeast region of the US.
How is WNS spread?
Transmission of the WNS fungus occurs through bat-to-bat contact, and inadvertently by humans who visit infected roosting sites such as caves and underground mines. So far there is no evidence that WNS is infectious to humans since the disease does not grow at temperatures above 68°F. There are currently no effective or practical treatments available for bats that already have the disease, prevention is the best option currently.
Signs of WNS in bats
Bats flying during daytime hours or roosting on the outside of buildings during winter.
Bats having difficulty flying especially during winter.
Large numbers of dying or dead bats (6 or more) especially at the opening of a cave or mine in winter.
Hibernating bats with white fungus on their face or wings during winter.
Bats with scarred or misshaped wings or tails at any time of the year.
If you see a bat showing any of these signs you are asked to notify the DNRE immediately.
For more information on what you can do please check out the following sites:
Michigan Organization for Bat Conservation (800) 276-7074
DNRE's Wildlife Disease Lab (517) 336- 5030