Your Wildlife Habitat
Living With Bats
Many human conflicts with bats are based on myths. Bats are really quite shy and gentle and not at all aggressive. If they seem to be dive-bombing your head it’s because they are after the bugs swarming around you. They navigate extremely well and they are not blind, so they will never get stuck in your hair. They are actually doing you a service because one bat can eat up to 3,000 mosquitoes every night! If bats have gained access to your attic you will want to avoid breathing in any dust from their droppings. Bat guano can contain spores which cause a serious lung infection called histoplasmosis. You must wear a fine dust mask when cleaning up after bats. Because a very small number of bats can carry rabies, it is best not to attempt to handle them. Timing is all important when trying to remove bats. Bats hibernate from October through May. Baby bats are born in May or June and are not yet able to fly, so trying to get rid of them in the summer won’t work. In the fall, it’s a matter of waiting until they all fly outside at dusk and then not letting them back in again. A one-way exit will help. You will have to caulk any gap larger than 1/4 inch to prevent them from re-entering. For detailed instructions, check out the links provided. If you choose to hire a professional, be sure to choose one who respects the timing of their life cycle. You might also want to consider building a bat house to provide them another place to roost. This will help deter them from returning to your home, but keep them around for the benefits they provide.
Living With Bats is a fact sheet published by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry that explains how to prevent conflicts with bats and how to deal with conflicts when they arise.
The Ontario SPCA website answers some basic questions about bats and provides tips on how to get rid of them.
The Wild About Gardening website, sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Federation, offers excellent information about bats, including how to plant a bat-friendly garden and instructions for building a bat house.
Bat Conservation International provides a short video about removing a bat from your house (10:35 min.) and demonstrations about ways to prevent access. This website also provides a printable sheet with eviction instructions and a wide variety of other information about bats. They even provide tips on how to choose a professional who uses humane methods of eviction. Instructions about building bat houses are also available on this site.
Bats – Ontario’s Flying Mammals, information from the Ontario Woodlot Assocation, provides a brief overview of the 8 species of bats in Ontario and where they’re most likely to be found.
In 2010 a disease called white nose syndrome was discovered in Ontario. The condition has been dubbed “white nose syndrome” because some affected bats have visible rings of white fungus around their faces. Infected bats emerge from torpor (the state of low physical activity characteristic of hibernating animals) more frequently than normal during winter hibernation, exhausting their energy reserves before food becomes available in the spring. White nose syndrome has killed more than five million bats in the northeastern U.S. by 2012. White nose syndrome has killed more than five million bats in the northeastern U.S. For more information please refer to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry website and a Fact Sheet they have produced. More information can be obtained from the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative.