While bats rarely cause problems for humans, they may accidentally come into contact with humans–some may even live unnoticed for years in attics. If you do come across a bat in your home, don’t panic. Bats may hang under eaves, a porch or garage to rest in between flights while feeding. This feeding itself is beneficial to humans by eating mosquitos and other insects. If you do find a bat in your home, it’s possible to release them without harm.
What to Do if a Bat is in Your Home
First, you don’t have to panic. It can be released safely and humanely.
On occasion, a bat may find themselves in your home. If so follow these steps:
- If you do find a bat in the house, keep pets and children away from the bat until it is released.
- Stay near the walls as bats tend to fly higher to the near the walls and lower in the center.
- Keep inside doors closed so that the bat can find its way to the outside door to leave.
- Don’t try to pick up a bat with your bare hands, but instead use thick leather gloves or a rolled-up t-shirt, something made of thick material.
- If a bat does not leave on its own, you may need to use a container, such as cardboard or other stiff paper, to release it outside.
- The container should be tilted when releasing the bat so that it can climb onto a tree or other surface.
- If someone is bitten by a bat, it is recommended by the CDC that they be tested for rabies.
- To prevent bats from entering your home in the future, check for entry points in the home, such as gaps or openings. It may be necessary to get a professional to check where the bats may be entering and seal those areas.
- After a bat is evicted, you may decide to put up a bat house.
How Do Bats Get In?
Bats don’t burrow into buildings but find existing openings. This may include small openings or gaps on houses. One simple solution may be to use a check valve that you can get at a hardware store. It can be draped over the opening that you suspect bats are using to enter and exit the building. Bats will attempt to re-enter where they did initially, but the check valve will prevent re-entry. f you are unable to evict a bat yourself, call Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh for assistance in finding help
When to Evict
If you choose to evict a bat on your own, the goal is to do so humanely by allowing bats to leave so that they cannot re-enter. You should only evict if young are not present. Many states do not allow evicting bats during the months of May-August when bats may have young. You should also check with your state wildlife agency to know what laws apply in your area. Fall may be the best time to evict bats as it is between the seasons of raising young and hibernating for the winter.
Here is an overview of steps that can help to evict bats:
- Determine how bats are entering from outside entrances
- Install bat check valves to allow bats to exit but not return
- Leave up bat check valves for at least one week
- Once you have determined no more bats are leaving remove the check valves
- Contact a professional who can humanely remove bats if this does not work
Bats will make temporary stops at night in car garages or gazebos for night roosts during feedings. Unfortunately, this can create conflict with humans.
One solution may be to use mylar or flash tape with plastic sheets attached, which bats will avoid. When putting this up, ensure that stables are no more than an inch apart so that the bats do not get caught under them.
Protect Natural Habitats
To protect bats natural habits a few steps can be taken:
- Planting native vegetation
- Leave dead trees to stand as shelter if it is safe
- If there is a cave or abandoned mine on your property put up fencing and signs to keep people out so that they do not disturb the hibernating bats
Bat houses are becoming increasingly popular. Some people like to construct their own or purchase one. Recommended features of bat houses are as follows:
Bat house size and features:
- More than 24” tall with 1 to 4 chambers, at least 20” tall and 14” wide
- Chambers 3/4” – 1” deep
- Horizontal grooves inside chambers, 1/4” – 1/2” apart
- Landing plate with grooves
- Shingled roof
- Open bottom
- Painted or stained surfaces and sealed seams
- Mount on a building or metal pole.
- Do not place above a window, door, walkway or deck.
- Mount with a 2” – 4” spacer and a long backboard.
- Place a shallow tray below for droppings.
- Choose a spot with at least 7 morning hours of sun, except in particularly hot regions.
- Mount houses on poles back-to-back, facing north and south.
- Choose a spot near water and diverse habitat, 20’ from the nearest tree branch or other potential perch for aerial predators.
- Avoid spots near air conditioner units, air vents or burn barrels.
- If vandalism is likely, choose a safer location.
- Monitor for predators, hornets and overheating in summer.
- Clean out any wasp or mud dauber nests each winter.
- Caulk, paint and stain every 3 to 5 years.
- Move or modify the house if no bats occupy it for 2 years.
Worried About Disease?
Don’t let the threat of rabies prevent you from protecting bats. Bats are rarely rabid—and they are unlikely to be aggressive. Bats who do contract rabies die quickly, so they don’t cause an ongoing threat. Follow normal safety practices: Do not handle bats with bare hands, warn children not to handle bats, and vaccinate dogs and cats for rabies.
When a human is exposed to rabies due to a bat bite it is often because a human has carelessly handled a bat and may even be unaware they have been bitten. The CDC recommends capturing any bat found in the room of a person that is sleeping. Unfortunately, the bat will be killed to determine if it has rabies. This test is recommended as a precaution as an individual may be unaware that they have been bitten. Contact your doctor if you suspect a bat bite may have occurred. Most importantly, never pick up a bat with your bare hands
What If I Find a Bat?
Sometimes when a bat is found outside on the ground, it is assumed that the bat is rabid, but this may not be the case. The bat may simply be sick or hurt from flying into a window. Bats are typically not aggressive and do not bite unless provoked. If you do find a bat, call Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh.
Please note, Humane Action Pittsburgh (HAP) is not a wildlife rescue and is unable to address concerns or assist with wildlife emergencies. Please utilize the resources on our website to find the appropriate organization to contact. Submissions to HAP through our contact form or email will not be able to be addressed.