Bats in Attic of Richmond Homes

Have you seen evidence of bats in the attic? Bats are a common problem in Richmond homes. Bats can live in a "colony" in the attic ro in the eaves of your house. Bats can enter gaps as small as 3/8" to 1/2", so the entry points can be very difficult to identify. Our technician s are thoroughly trained, and have years of experience removing bats in attic, bats in wall, bats in eaves, bats in the house.

Call Critter Control of Richmond to have one of our a Service Technicians perform an entry point inspection so your bat issues can be a problem of the past.

BATS

 

Introduction

                Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight.  They are generally considered beneficial since they eat thousands of insects each night, readily snacking on mosquitoes and other pests.  Two species of bats commonly enter buildings in our area.  These are the little brown bat (technically the “little brown myotis”) and the big brown bat.  Little browns have a wingspan of about nine inches, with a body about the size of a mouse.  They can squeeze through a ½ inch gap.  Big browns are bit larger, with a twelve inch wingspan.  Both species are active at night, leaving the roost a little after dark and returning before dawn.

 

Life cycle

                Male and female bats generally live in separate colonies.  Males live in small “bachelor colonies”.  Females gather together in larger colonies called “maternity colonies.”  Bats give birth to one to three young in late May or early June.  For the first week the tiny babies cling to their mothers and go everywhere they go.  After a week they become too heavy and are left alone in the roost at night while their mothers forage.  After about a month (early July in our area) the baby bats are able to fly and begin following their mothers out on foraging trips.  Little browns usually leave buildings in late summer or fall to migrate to hibernation sites.  These sites are usually in caves, mines, or under bridges, where thousands of bats can roost together.  Big browns often hibernate in buildings.  During winter bats will break hibernation and go out foraging during warm spells.  Bats hibernating in buildings may react to the heat inside and enter the interior.  Bats will return to the same roost each year.  In the case of maternity colonies (which most colonies in buildings are), females born there will return with their mothers in following years.  In this way, a colony which starts out as a dozen or two can grow to several hundred over the years. 

 

Damage

                Bats produce tremendous amounts of urine and droppings.  These may damage the siding below their entry hole.  They also pile up in attics and walls.  At times, these dropping, which have a strong ammonia-type smell, will cause odor problems in the building.  Bats living in walls may cause enough noise with their scratching and squeaking to disturb people.  The greatest problem with bat colonies in buildings is that they often find their way into the interior of the building.  This most commonly happens on hot days (over 90 degrees) when extreme temperatures in the attic cause the bats to travel down the walls looking for a cooler place.  If they find any small gaps leading into the building, they may enter and become lost inside the building.  Obviously, a bat flying around the house in the middle of the night is not an enjoyable experience.

 

Rabies  

                Encountering a rabid bat is rare; however, nearly all human cases of rabies in the U.S. are caused by bat bites.  The problem is that bats have very small teeth, and people (especially children and the infirm) can be bitten and not know it.  All cases of bats loose in occupied buildings should be considered a health risk.  If possible, the bat should be captured and sent for rabies testing, however, that is not always possible.  In any event, contact your local health department and/or your doctor as soon as possible for advice.  The telephone number for your local health department will be in the government section of the white pages under the listings for your city or county.  Another good source for information on bats and rabies is the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  They can be reached at 1-800-311-3435, or online at www.cdc.gov.

 

Histoplasmosis

                Histoplasmosis is a rare respiratory disease sometimes associated with bat dropping.  It is caused by the inhalation of spores from a fungus that grows in soil enriched by a high nitrogen source, such as bird or bat droppings.  It is generally accepted that the droppings need to be in contact with moist soil in order for the fungus to grow.  Since moist soil is not generally found in attics, walls, etc. in buildings, we consider Histoplasmosis to largely be a non-issue.  That being said, it certainly is wise to wear a respirator fitted with HEPA filters if the bat dropping are going to be disturbed (such as to clean them up).  Contact your doctor, the health department, and/or the CDC for authoritative answers on this subject.

               

Control

                Removal of bat colonies from buildings involves several steps.  First, a thorough inspection is done to determine all of the possible ways bats can enter from outside.  All of these potential entry points are sealed, except for the actual place the bats are entering.  Over that hole a device is installed that acts as a one way door.  Bats are able to leave the roost at night to forage, but when they return, they cannot figure out how to get back in.  Since all of the other ways in have already been sealed, the bats are stuck outside and must find a new home.  One week (or so) is allowed for all the bats to exit.  The one way door is then removed and the final hole is sealed.  Ideally this is done either before the young are born or after they are able to fly, so as not to cause the death of the baby bats left behind when their mothers are evicted.  Protection of human health and property is paramount, however, and we will evict bats during the time dependent young are present, if it is necessary.

 

Loose in buildings

                Bats loose in buildings are often difficult to remove.  Once the bat is hidden, it is nearly impossible to find.  Countless times we have been called to search buildings for hidden bats and have found it to be an exercise in futility.  One approach is to leave a window or two open about an inch for the entire night.  If a towel is laid over the window sill and draped out the open window, it will make it easier for the bat to climb out.  If nothing is done, a bat trapped inside a building will die in a week or so.  Keep in mind that since the eviction process takes a week to complete, bats may enter the interior of the building while the eviction is on-going.  There is no way to completely eliminate this risk.

 

Critter Control of Richmond provides service to the following cities:

Ashland | Chester | Chesterfield | Colonial Heights | Glen Allen | Henrico

Highland Springs | Hopewell | Manakin Sabot | Mechanicsville | Midlothian

Moseley | Petersburg  | Powhatan | Richmond | Sandston | Varina 

Call to schedule your home inspection