Bats in your house?

Evidence of bats in your home

Some bats sleep in buildings during the day. Bats can enter buildings through holes and crevices as small as 1/2 inch.

  • Scat (brown-black pellets, called guano), often accumulates in piles beneath bats’ favorite sleeping spots
  • Stains from urine or body oils can form near the holes or crevices bats use to get in or out of the building
  • Bat calls (high pitched chirps and squeaks) can sometimes be heard during the day
Photo by: Melquisedec Gamba-Rios

Scat (brown-black pellets, called guano), often accumulates in piles beneath bats’ favorite sleeping spots

Photo by: Melquisedec Gamba-Rios

Stains from urine or body oils can form near the holes or crevices bats use to get in or out of the building

Bat calls (high pitched chirps and squeaks) can sometimes be heard during the day

Found a sick or injured bat?

Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

If you suspect a person or pet has been bitten or scratched by a bat, or you have found a bat in your home (especially in a child's bedroom), immediately contact your county health department. Never directly handle bats.

Removing a Single Bat from your home

A single bat flying in the house is rarely a cause for alarm and can usually be dealt with easily. In most cases, the “lost” bat is trying frantically to locate an exit and will leave on its own, though leaving may be more challenging for the bat than getting in! The animal can be assisted by opening a window or exterior door. Doors to adjacent rooms should be closed, all lights should be turned on, and ceiling fans turned off. It is important to remain quiet and patient as the bat finds its way outside. If the bat does not leave on its own, and if no direct contact with people or pets that may have resulted in a bite has occurred, the bat can be safely captured and released outside.

The Florida bonneted bat is a Federally endangered species that cannot be evicted from a home or building without a permit. If you suspect you have a colony of Florida bonneted bats, contact FBB@batcon.org.

If you have a colony of any type of bat other than Florida bonneted bats, you may be able to remove them from a building safely and humanely using the approved methods below. Unsure of what type of bat species is in your home, CLICK HERE

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Follow these steps to capture a bat for release or for testing:

  1. There is no need to chase a bat; simply wait quietly until the bat lands, then, wearing leather gloves, cover it with a small box or other containers.
  2. Gently, slip a piece of cardboard or a large envelope between the container and the surface where the bat has landed. Be careful that no part of the bat is caught between the box or can and the cardboard. Then slowly turn the box over, containing the bat inside.* If the bat must remain in the box for several hours (e.g., it’s daytime and you want to wait until dark to release) place a soft cloth (non-terry) in the box before securing a cover. Most bats are very small and can escape from a container with a loose-fitting lid, so be sure your cover is secure, but not air-tight. Small holes can be made for ventilation.
  3. Place the container in a quiet, safe place and wait until dark before releasing the bat outdoors (a bat released during the day is vulnerable to predators).
  4. Most bats need to drop into flight from an elevated location, so don’t place the container on the ground. Place it on its side so the bat can easily climb out onto a tree limb or a second-story deck, etc.
  5. Watch until the bat flies away.
  6. If the bat appears unable to fly, contact a local bat rehabilitator. You can search for one by state at: HERE OR your state wildlife agency or Department of Natural Resources.

When can bats be safely removed from homes?

The Florida bonneted bat is a Federally endangered species that cannot be evicted from a home or building without a permit. If you suspect you have a colony of Florida bonneted bats, contact FBB@batcon.org.

If you have a colony of any type of bat other than Florida bonneted bats, you may be able to remove them from a building safely and humanely using the approved methods below. Unsure of what type of bat species is in your home, CLICK HERE

August 15 – April 15

Most bat species, other than Florida bonneted bats, can be removed during fall and winter.

April 16 – August 14

During spring and summer when mother bats are raising young, bats cannot be removed without a special permit.

Questions about removing bats?

If you suspect a person or pet has been bitten or scratched by a bat, or you have found a bat in your home (especially in a child's bedroom), immediately contact your county health department. Never directly handle bats.

Removing a colony of bats from your home

The Florida bonneted bat is a Federally endangered species that cannot be evicted from a home or building without a permit. If you suspect you have a colony of Florida bonneted bats, contact FBB@batcon.org.

If you have a colony of any type of bat other than Florida bonneted bats, you may be able to remove them from a building safely and humanely using the approved methods below. Unsure of what type of bat species is in your home, CLICK HERE

Bats are wild animals that should never be touched or harassed. Bats cannot legally be trapped and relocated.
However, there are ways you can encourage a colony of bats to leave a building.

  1. Check if these are Florida bonneted bats.
  2. If you suspect you have a colony of Florida bonneted bats, contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife through their office in Vero Beach at 772-562-3909 or verobeach@fws.gov.
  3. If you have a colony of any type of bat other than Florida bonneted bats, you may be

The Florida bonneted bat is a Federally endangered species that cannot be evicted from a building without a permit.  You will need a permit to be able to remove them from a building safely and humanely using approved methods.

Excluding bats with tubes

In most cases, tubes make the best bat-exclusion devices. These include openings on buildings with rough exterior walls, such as brick or stone houses and log cabins. Tubes also work best for holes at corners where walls meet and on horizontal surfaces such as soffits.

Exclusion tubes should have a diameter of two inches (five centimeters) and be about 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) in length. Exclusion devices can be purchased commercially or made from PVC pipe or flexible plastic tubing. Bats are unable to cling to the smooth surface of these tubes, so the tube should project no more than one-quarter inch (six millimeters) into the opening.

This will ensure exiting bats can easily enter the tube. Empty caulking tubes also work well after caps at both ends have been cut away. Caulking tubes must be thoroughly cleaned before they can be used for exclusions because dried caulk forms a rough surface that could allow bats to reenter. These flexible, plastic tubes let you squeeze one end so it fits into a crevice. Or you can cut one end into flaps that fit over an opening and can be caulked, stapled, nailed or screwed into place (see diagram).

Once the tube has been secured over the hole, a piece of lightweight, clear plastic can be taped around the tube’s outside end (see diagram) to further reduce the likelihood of bats reentering, though this is usually not necessary.

After the tube has been secured into or over an opening used by bats, any spaces between the outer rim of the tube and the building must be sealed shut. Also be sure to seal any other openings in the building that bats could use. Leave the tube in place for a minimum of seven days to ensure all bats have left. After the bats have been excluded, the tube should be removed and the opening permanently sealed with water-based silicone caulking, caulk-backing rod, hardware cloth or heavy-duty plastic mesh. In some cases, sealing may require repair or replacement of old, deteriorated wood. When bats are using multiple openings to enter and exit, exclusion devices should be placed on each opening. If the bats do not appear to be exiting or seem to be having trouble doing so, add new valves as needed.

Never simply wait for bats to fly out at night and then seal openings. Not all of the bats leave at the same time, and some may remain inside all night, especially during storms.

Methods To Avoid:

Methods that pose a danger to bats or the public and are NOT recommended:

  • Any products or structural modifications that block natural ventilation, like hanging plastic sheeting over an active roost entrance, thereby altering roost microclimate
  • Silicone, polyurethane or similar non-water-based caulk products
  • The use of flexible netting as an exclusion device, or one-way door, is overly complicated and there are multiple draw-backs, including entangling bats, which can result in permanent injury or death. In the majority of situations, BCI does not recommend its use.
  • Any exclusion device attached with duct tape. Duct tape or similar adhesive tapes fail when surfaces are rough, coated with dust, mold or mildew, or when used in high humidity or during rain, and can result in re-entry or entrapment.
  • Expandable foam can block ventilation and break down in the heat, allowing bats to re-enter. It can kill bats that are exposed to the material before it dries--dead bats have been found entombed in foam.

 

HIRING A PROFESSIONAL:

Should I Hire a Professional or Do it Myself?

Safely and permanently excluding bats from buildings requires patience and attention to detail. It can involve working high on ladders, scaffolding or even a hydraulic lift. Though detailed exclusion instructions are included here, many prefer to contact a bat management professional.

Bat Conservation International no longer maintains a list of BCI-approved bat exclusion professionals, but we do provide criteria for selecting a qualified professional.

BCI recommends that the company:

  • Have verifiable bat exclusion experience (both the company and the individual)?
  • Be licensed by the state and insured against any incidental damage that may occur?
  • Have demonstrated knowledge and familiarity with local bat species (e.g., specific roosting preferences, behavior and seasonal activity, including maternity season date range for the species identified)?
  • Provide at least three recent client references (with phone numbers) for similar projects?
  • Offer a workmanship and materials guarantee for at least two years?
  • Offer a written contract?
  • Use BCI-approved materials and methods

Be wary:

  • If they use scare tactics to convince you that your family is in danger from roosting bats and must act immediately?
  • If they advise or use ineffective methods such as ultrasonic repellents (one study found that ultrasonic devices may even attract bats), or materials that degrade quickly like expandable foam, paper, steel wool or rags to close holes?
  • If they advise or use illegal methods (in the U.S. and most European countries) such as chemical pesticides?
  • If they agree to exclude bats during the maternity season.

The FPL Bat Lab at Zoo Miami is founded by:


 

“The importance of the partnership between Zoo Miami, NextEra, and BCI cannot be overstated. By combining their unique resources, they have created a role model for conservation efforts to better understand and protect this critically endangered species for future generations.”

Ron Magill

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