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National Wildlife Control Training Program vol. 1.

Bat Control

Scientific Name: Order of Chioptera  bat caught in a window blind

Bats are frightening to many people. Bats evoke images of scary movies and dark fearsome places. This page will give you some important information on how to better understand and properly respond to bats and our conflicts with bats. Hopefully, if we have done our job right, we will have removed a little of the scare!

Bat Biology

  • According to the NGPC, a mere 150 big brown bats can protect local agriculture from 53 million rootworms each summer. 6-30-05
  • Diet consists of insects.
  • Relatively long-lived.
  • Can have one to two young/year.
  • Beneficial Bat--Video by Wild America

Animal Identification

  1. Bats give chirps and scratching can be heard inside unused parts of buildings, especially during dawn and dusk.
  2. Guano and urine have distinctive smell.

Are Bats Living In My House?

There are a few clues to look for in determining if bats are living in your house.

1. If you have had two or more encounters with bats flying around your house within one calendar year, then you probably have bat droppings in middle of attic bats.

2.  If you find piles of mouse like fecal material in your attic or on the ground outside your house, then you probably have bats. (Bats defecate before they enter your home and below where they roost for the day see photo)bat droppings bat guano Make sure that the fecal material is  not old by laying down a piece of newspaper and see if any more droppings fall on the paper. If there is, you have bats. (Just a word of caution about droppings. They can carry a fungus known to cause Histoplasmosis. Don't breathe the feces and avoid contact with them. Ideally, you should wear a HEPA filter mask and spray the fecal material down with 10% bleach solution).

You can distinguish between bat droppings and mouse droppings in two ways. First, bat droppings tend to be clustered as they will pile up below where the bat is roosting. Second, bat droppings will have a shiny speckled appearance (from all the insect wings) and will crumble like dust when touched. Mouse droppings on the other hand, tend to be scattered about and become hard when dry.

3. You see bats flying around your dark house constantly and even see them disappear. Performing a bat watch at dusk is an ideal way of determining if you  have bats. While it is not one hundred percent accurate, it is still worth doing. Perform a bat watch by having people stand by your house at dusk till dark. They should be positioned to see as much of the house as possible. The first person to see a bat should shout out. If you have trouble identifying the specific hole, concentrate on the side of the house where the first person saw the bat. Only perform bat watches on non-rainy nights.

4. If you have a bat flying in your home during the winter time, then you can be certain bats are living in your home as they have decided to hibernate there. Warning: Be sure to follow the rabies protocols in your state.

Control of Bats

Repellents-Hazing (Rarely Effective and Possibly Dangerous)

People are always looking for the easy way to handle wildlife problems. Here are some techniques that people have tried.

  • Lights: Be careful though they may simply go and live in the walls between the studs.
  • Mothballs: They can be irritating to bats but there are dangers to using them in your home. We DO NOT recommend them. Chances are to get bats out of the house with moth balls will require enough moth balls to drive you and your family out of the house too. Plus it is a potential fire hazard and some varieties are carcinogens.
  • install an exhaust fan. Bats need hot temperatures to raise young. Installing an exhaust fan in the attic that turns on when the temperature gets too hot will help discourage bats from living in your home. Do this before the bats return from winter hibernation for best results. Also the fan temperature gauge should be set at 70 degrees F.

Bat Rabies

The majority of humans that have died of rabies (also known as hydrophobia) in the U.S. have died from the bat strain of rabies. Some states like N.Y. NE, and MA have changed their protocols in dealing with potential bat exposures. Part of the reason is that bat bites don't leave a mark large enough for most people to notice. So even if you think you haven't been exposed, you may have.

Think you would know if you have been bitten? THINK AGAIN

Bat bite courtesy of Nebraska Public Health bat bite courtesy of Nebraska Public Health
Bat bites to the hand. Both images courtesy of Nebraska Public Health.

Assume that you or your child was bitten by the bat if

  • you awaken to find a bat flying in your room.
  • you find a bat in a room with an unattended child whether sleeping or not.
  • you find a bat in a room with someone who was mentally unable to assess whether he/she was bitten by a bat.

Take ACTION:

  • If you suspect that you, your family or pet have come into contact with a bat do not let it out of your house!
  • The bat must be captured, without damaging its head, and then tested for rabies.
  • Don’t use a tennis racket to stun it! If you are too frightened to take care of it yourself, call your local health department or police and inform them of your situation. They should know someone they can direct you to. If only your pet has come into contact with the bat don’t handle your pet without wearing proper hand protection. Remember, rabies is carried in the saliva and nerve tissue of its victim. If your pet has bitten the bat or has been bitten you won’t know where the saliva of that bat might be on your pet. If you must handle your pet do so with rubber gloves and then only sparingly. Consult your veterinarian as to the proper course of action. The likelihood of your contracting rabies from bat saliva on your pet is indeed remote. However, I would rather you take extra precautions now than have extra regret later.

How to Capture a Lone Bat

Step 1. Watch the bat and wait for him to tire and land. DON'T LEAVE THE ROOM!!! Close doors and cabinents and closets to reduce potential travel areas.

Step 2. Wearing leather gloves, take a wide mouthed tupperware-like container and place it over the bat. Then slide the lid between the bat and the wall trapping the bat inside. Tape down the cover. Be careful if on ladders. It is critical that if the bat is to be tested that the head not be damaged. NO TENNIS RACQUETS!!!

Step 3. Take the bat for testing to local vet or health dept. (I would advise learning the local procedure before having an incident. These events never seem to happen during normal business hours :(

Step 4. (If needed). If everyone is certain there was no exposure, the bat can be released on a tree outdoors. Never release a bat on the ground as it is too hard for them to fly away. Place bat as high on the tree as you can safely do.

Other professionals you should contact would include your local Health Department or your state's Department of Public Health.

  • Zachary Jones, 16, Houston Texas dies of rabies from bat bite May 13, 8:18 AM (ET). About a month earilier, he was bitten by a bat while he slept in his home. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control statistics, only 10 other people have died of rabies in the United States since 1998. Texas Children's Hospital said in a statement. A 15-year-old girl from Wisconsin who contracted rabies in 2004 survived after the onset of symptoms, which can take weeks to develop. Doctors at Texas Children's were trying the same treatment on Jones that saved the girl, but a spokeswoman told the Houston Chronicle the boy's illness was more advanced and he had a different strain of rabies.

Bat Bugs (Cimicid)

  • Bat bugs (Eastern bat bug, C. adjunctus and Western bat bug, C. pilosellus) can be easily confused with bed bugs (Cimix lectularius).
  • Bat bug life-cycle. The eggs hatch from four to 12 days and the bat bugs proceed through five nymphal stages, each lasting about three to 10 days. Optimal development temperature is 86°F (30°C). The total development time for the common bed bug has been calculated to be from as little as 24 days at 86°F, and being delayed for as long as 128 days at 65°F. 
  • To bat bugs, humans are a secondary host. When bats are excluded, sometimes the insects which feed on bats will enter the living space in search of a new host (like you) for a blood meal.
  • Look at ceiling lights for signs of insects as this can be a clue that insects are coming from the attic. (PCT Magazine Feb '05 p. 94.)
  • Bobby Corrigan also published a piece on bat bugs in PCT Magazine Dec '05.
  • R.L. Usinger’s (1966) Monograph of Cimicidae. Thomas Say Society, Vol. 7. Entomological Society of America, College Park, Md.

Bat Houses

BCI's Rocket Box Design.pdf

 

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