How to Get Rid of Bats in Your Home
Shoo away these invasive creatures safely and humanely.
These unwelcome guests are actually eco-warriors that spread seeds and control insects with aplomb, so it's important to evict bats without doing harm. Hire a local bat-exclusion professional for the job either in spring or fall, to avoid hibernation and maternity seasons. Here, Alyssa Bennett, a small-mammals biologist at the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, shares the safest, smartest ways to do so.
Determine Their Purpose
Your first step is to take note of how the bats appear to be using your space. "While homeowners may have conflict with bats roosting on the exterior of their home, or taking up residence within attic spaces or siding, bats do not actually chew on or gnaw through walls," Bennett says. Instead, they're passive users of structures, typically hanging out on porches or balconies as a pitstop while hunting (called "night roosting") or using eroded spots in building materials to shimmy into a house for shelter. "On stucco homes, especially underneath covered porches, it's common for the stucco around decorative logs to include gaps large enough to allow a bat entry," Bennett explains.
Offer Them Another Home
If you've spotted evidence of the creatures (like bat droppings), it's possible that they're just stopping by your property for brief periods during their nightly travels. "You can dissuade this behavior by providing an alternative roosting site," Bennett says. Typically, that means mounting a specially designed bat house on a building or post nearby. Though there's no proof that they'll ditch your home for the new bat house you've provided, it's very possible that its location, ease of access, or structural qualities will make it a more appealing option.
Seal Them Out
If, on the other hand, you have reason to suspect that bats are regularly spending time in your attic, eaves, or walls, you should take a more definitive approach to keeping the critters out, called bat exclusion. "This technique involves placing one-way valves over all the openings that the animals may be using to enter," Bennett says. Essentially, they'll exit one night to search for food and then won't be able to return. Because identifying all potential entry points and applying these seals is tricky work, this strategy requires hiring a licensed bat-exclusion professional.
To ensure good results (and that no bats get hurt along the way), exclusion is only performed in the early spring or fall, Bennett says: "That way, you'll avoid winter hibernation, during which some bat species could be sealed inside, and maternity season (mid-summer), when female bats birth their pups—which are non-flying and rely on the nursing of their mothers for several weeks." Bonus: Sealing these gaps reduces heat and air-conditioning leaks, which can cut energy costs.