HOW TO IDENTIFY BATS
The most easily observed characteristic involved in bat identification is their size. Bats vary in size and weight from about 2 inches long and weighing about 1 ounce to about five feet and weighing about 3 pounds. Of course, the size and weight of bats varies greatly between these extremes. Not surprisingly, the two major types (sub-order) of bats are the microbats and the megabats. Another major difference important for identification is the type of diet that respective bat species prefer - insects, fruit or blood.
BAT FACTS & INFORMATION
- Bats are mammals and are the only group of mammals that possess true wings that enable them to fly. Bats are not categorized as rodents.
- Bats are valuable to the environment since they range from pollinators to insect controllers since they prey upon and consume insects.
- The saying “blind as a bat” is not true since bats are not blind but have very complex and effective means of detecting obstacles and sources of food, a process known as echolocation.
- Bats are the second most numerous mammal with more than 1,300 recognized species. However, only about 50 species are found in the U.S. About 70% of the world’s bats eat insects, while the others eat fruits or consume blood. Only a few species of bats feed on blood, but because of Count Dracula and other scary movies, these few species receive a lot of attention, interest and excessive fear.
- Bats generally live in caves and other naturally occurring shelters; however, will sometimes live in sheltered places like hollow trees, wall voids and attics of homes and other buildings.
- Bats generally live for about 20 years.
- The world’s smallest bat - the bumblebee bat - weighs less than a penny.
- Within the United States the two species of bats most likely to use homes or other buildings for roosting sites are:
- Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) - This bat is often found in swampy habitats and moths and other insects are predominant parts of their diet. They have been seen eating insects off the fur of other types of animals, which might give them the appearance of a vampire bat.
- Big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) - The big brown bat is the most common bat in the U.S. and while it inhabits cities, towns, and rural areas, it is most often found in heavily forested regions.
PREVENTION AND EXCLUSION OF BATS FROM YOUR HOME
Bat prevention and exclusion is usually a job best handled by a Pest Management Professional or Animal Control Specialist.
Bats may enter buildings and become a nuisance by their squeaking, scratching, scrambling, and crawling in attics, walls, and chimneys. Bat droppings can accumulate and cause quite a stench in buildings and an unsightly mess on the outside of buildings. Rabies is a potential bat-related health hazard and histoplasmosis can become a health concern since this fungus is often associated with bat feces. Rabies is only confirmed by a laboratory analysis of the animal.
Bat-proofing your home is important to prevent bats from getting inside and involves two things:
An inspection of the home’s exterior to find holes or gaps ¼-½ or larger that bats may use as entry or exit points from roosting sites or nursery colonies usually found in the attic. Performing an evening inspection can be an optimal way to identify where bats exit the home to go outside to hunt for prey.
Using sealants to close cracks, gaps or holes used by bats and use of an exclusion device called a one-way door that enables a bat to exit but not reenter a roosting site. Use of sealants only often causes bats that are not outside the roosting site to be trapped inside and die. For this and other reasons, it is wise to consult a professional bat expert before doing any bat exclusion work.
Bats seen flying during the evening hours are not a problem since those bats are likely searching for insects to feed upon. However, bats observed during the day or found lying on the ground may indicate a sick bat that should never be handled. If you see a dead or lethargic bat, call your Pest Management Professional or local animal control agency rather than handling the animal.
BAT REMOVAL FROM INSIDE A HOME
Occasionally a bat ventures into the living space of one’s home. Should that happen, try to keep the bat inside one room by closing the room door and opening all windows in the room so the bat can exit. If the bat doesn’t exit, contact a bat removal specialist to remove the animal.