Bats are the only flying mammal in the world. They are nocturnal, sleeping during the day in sheltered nests and flying out at night to feed. Most bats navigate by echolocation. The emit ultrasonic pulses and, by timing the echo, can visualize a detailed representation of their environment. The size of a bat depends on the species. Smaller bats have a wingspan of a few inches and a body the size of a human thumb, such as the common little brown bat. The greater mastiff bat, the largest in North America, has a wingspan up to 2 feet. A female bat will have one pup per year. In North America, they breed near the end of summer and early autumn and give birth in the early summer. They can live for years in the wild, with little brown bats frequently reaching over 30 years in age. During the winter, bats will either migrate or hibernate when food becomes scarce. This occurs primarily with bats that live in cooler climates. Those in southern states, such as Georgia and Florida, can stay active year-round because of the warm weather. Those that do migrate, they will typically return to the same roost when they come back to the area. Bats have an unfortunate and undeserved reputation. They are associated with vampires, scary Halloween takes, dark caves, and deadly diseases. More recently, bats have been demonized for their role in COVID-19, and have historically been blamed for rabies and other deadly diseases. Bats, however, are good. We want more bats in the world. For the vast majority of people, bats are entirely harmless. Bats feed on insects, including mosquitoes. They rarely bite humans unless provoked, and while there are vampire bats in South America that feed on blood, most prefer bugs, fruits, and other foods. Even vampire bats prefer livestock over people. Most bats in North America are insectivores, consuming insects as their primary food source. An average bat will eat more than 3,000 mosquitoes in a single night, for instance, making these animals key in controlling harmful insect populations. Other bat species eat fruit or nectar and benefit the environment by pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds. Unfortunately, their reputation has led to the mass extermination of bats, and their numbers have been dwindling. New construction and shifting populations have also cost bats their natural habitats and diminished their food sources. As a result, the number of bats across several species has decreased, making this animal vulnerable. Call today for professional Raleigh NC bat control services. Federal law in the U.S. protects these endangered species, preventing them from being harmed or killed: Other species may be protected at the state level as well in an effort to restore bat populations. These local laws can determine how bats must be handled if they infest a home. Other common bats in the United States include the Hoary Bat, the Lesser Long-Nosed Bat, Little Brown Bat, Mexican Free-Tailed Bat, Pallid Bat, California Leaf Nosed Bat, Red Bat, Spotted Bat, Big Brown Bat, and many others. There are well over 60 species of bat found throughout the US. While the behaviors between the species differ, almost any bat could theoretically cause problems on your property. Bats as a Pest Species Bats are immensely beneficial to the environment, and in nature are almost entirely harmless to humans. But in or near your home, bats can still be dangerous. The danger isn’t from a bite – although there is a risk of bite if you purposefully or accidentally get too close to one. Rather, bats – especially as infestations grow – create droppings, called “guano,” that are filled with bacteria and acidic to your property. Bat guano causes a terrible odour, grows mould, and can be immensely damaging. Homes also offer a lot of safety for bats. Exterior shingle siding provides useful nighttime protection. Attics and barns offer excellent safety. Bats will find any space they can live without risk of predators and sleep comfortably during the day, and frequently those places are found around human dwellings. Bat colonies that are left undisturbed, sometimes for years, can grow to contain hundreds of bats. Even smaller colonies carry risks. And while bites are rare, all wild animals will bite if they feel threatened. Bats are vectors of disease. Their bodies can host viruses that are harmless to the bat but dangerous to humans, so bites are considered serious medical issues. Bats are hosts for: Rabies–Bats make up the majority of animal to human rabies transmissions with approximately 5 percent of the bats throughout the U.S. carrying the virus. They can spread it through a bite or scratch. While unusual behaviour, such as daytime activity or an inability to fly could be a sign of rabies, the only confirmation is through lab testing so all animals should not be approached. Rabies is not fatal as long as it is treated immediately, but is almost always fatal if left ignored. Histoplasmosis – This is a lung disease caused by inhaling a fungus in bat droppings. It is primarily found in the eastern and mid Atlantic states, and the symptoms increase in correlation with the exposure to harmful spores. The symptoms include fever, skin lesions, chest and joint pain, and can lead to long term respiratory issues, especially in those with weakened immune systems. Leptospirosis – This is a bacterial disease found in bat urine. Coming into contact with the bacteria, especially if it touches an open wound, can cause fever, vomiting, liver and kidney damage, and can be fatal. Bats are also hosts for many zoonotic viruses that have historically spread to humans, though the risk of bat to human transmission is extremely low. Bats can also scratch if they feel threatened, and while their scratches may not carry viruses, they may have bacteria like salmonella and they can be painful and risk infection. Bats are typically not aggressive. But they can be aggressive during removal. The vast majority of bites and scratches occur when someone tries to handle a bat, either because it was found injured on the ground or they tried to get rid of bats without experience. Extreme care and special equipment must be used when cleaning after an infestation. For these reasons, it is critical to get rid of bats as soon as possible, and often a good idea to contact a professional bat removal company. Know When to Get Rid of Bats With These Signs Some bat infestations are clearly obvious, as you may see bats on your property. But others can be difficult to notice. Since these animals are most active at night and live in hidden nooks, knowing the signs of an infestation can help you identify one early on. Some of the signs of bats include: Bats coming and going around dusk. A buildup of guano (droppings) on walls, window sills, and ledges. Rustling or chirping noises. Black stains around holes where bats enter. Odor from guano. A single bat flying around your home is not always a sign of an infestation. Many bats will simply be eating insects they find in your yard before returning to their roosts nearby. Frequent bat sightings or other signs of bats, however, do require more investigation. Are Bats Hard to Get Rid Of? Bats are not an easy animal to remove. They cannot be quickly captured and carried outside, nor are there any fast acting treatments that force them out. Extermination, or killing bats, is rarely an acceptable option. In many cases, it is even illegal. The first challenge in handling bats is knowing they are present. Subtle signs are frequently missed, allowing the bat colony to continue growing and making it more difficult to remove when it is finally spotted. During the removal process, some of the more common challenges include: Bats will return to the same nesting place year after year as long as they have a way to get inside. Bats will often live in small spaces, such as inside walls or attics, that are difficult to access. Small species can squeeze through holes only an inch wide, making it hard to find how the bat got in. Every bat, including the babies, need to be removed before holes are sealed. As an endangered species, legislation determines when and how bats can be removed in many states. Getting rid of bats requires patience, careful inspection, and a dedicated effort. Experience and knowledge of bat behaviour can also help. Bat exclusion will require work that can range from installing mesh to more complex home repairs, and some parts of the process could require handyman skills. There are many guides and tips online that tell you how to get rid of bats yourself, but it is important to complete the job thoroughly and carefully. Failing to exclude an area of your home risks bats soon returning, while ineffective methods could cause harm to you or the bats. Read more on: Attic Bats in Winter