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March 19, 2013

Bats Are Back!

Spring’s warmth awakens hibernating bats; it’s time to put out the welcome mat

The Humane Society of the United States

  • Big brown bats have turned this attic into a nursery. John Griffin/The HSUS

  • Little brown bats are one of six species affected by White-nosed Syndrome named for the white fungus visible on the noses and wings of affected bats. USFWS

  • One-way doors or “check valves” allow bats to leave a structure but keeps them from getting back in. John Griffin/The HSUS

  • Help bats by erecting a bat house. John Griffin/The HSUS

As bats slowly awaken from a winter-long hibernation, they begin to migrate back to their traditional spring and summer habitat, which can include our homes. Attics, crawl spaces, and chimneys provide the high temperatures and undisturbed environments that bats need for roosting, giving birth, and rearing young.

It is no surprise that you may not want bat colonies living in your home, but there are humane ways to exclude them.  Along with Bat Conservation International (BCI), we also urge you to protect bats as well as humanely resolve any conflicts with them.

Why bats need protecting
Humane exclusion (aka Keeping bats out of your home)
Alternative bat housing
Resources

Why bats need protecting

The new fungal disease called White-nose Syndrome has taken a huge toll on at least six species of bats found throughout the northeastern and eastern states, with more than 1 million deaths. As the disease spreads south and west, other bats, including some endangered species, are at risk including endangered species.

  • Bats play a key role in controlling bothersome and agriculturally devastating insects, eating pests such as the corn earworm moth, which alone causes over a billion dollars of damage to US crops from artichoke to watermelon.
  • A single little brown bat can eat from 50 to almost 100 percent of its body weight in insects in one night.
  • Bats pollinate numerous plants that people use, such as bananas, avocados, peaches, and mangoes to name just a few.
  • Bats are crucial to regenerating cleared rainforests by providing seed dispersal services of those hardy pioneer plants that provide much of the initial regrowth.

Now, more than ever, it is critical that bats be protected. The two best ways to do this is through humane exclusion from structures, and by providing alternative homes when possible.

Humane exclusion

  • Humane exclusion is usually a job for professionals, who can determine where and how bats are getting inside the structure.
  • During the appropriate time of year, a professional can properly install exclusion material and one-way doors (or “check valves”) that let bats out but not back in.
  • Bats can enter attics through openings as small as a nickel, so an experienced eye is best in determining where they are entering and exiting.
  • If bats have taken up residence in your home in previous years, early spring is the time to exclude them preventatively, before any births have taken place.
  • To retain the benefits bats bring by eating insects, as well as to help provide alternative roosting sites, consider putting up a bat house.

Alternative bat housing

Whether you evict some bats from your house or simply want the incredible benefits they provide, we recommend installing a bat house to give bats an alternate place to live. Bats are very fussy about where they will live, so it is vital to build the house to certain specs and orient it properly. Bat houses, blueprints for building, and other instructions are available from Bat Conservation International.

Resources

» If you are located within the D.C. Metro Area, take advantage of our wildlife conflict resolution service.
» Purchase a copy of Wild Neighbors; the go-to guide for useful, humane solutions to conflicts with wildlife. 

Create a Humane Backyard

A place that offers food, shelter, water, refuge from toxic sprays, and safety from mowers—it’s what every creature wants, right? They want a Humane Backyard. By making simple changes, you can create that haven of comfort and security for local wildlife. And you can do it anywhere: in the city, suburbs, or country. So look around--at your backyard, balcony, or the park down the street—then let us teach you how to make your own Humane Backyard. Once you’ve learned how, take our Humane Backyard pledge.

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