If there’s a bat in your house …
Don’t panic. The solutions are simple.
Bats are rarely aggressive, even if they’re being chased, but they may bite in self-defense if handled. As with any wild animal, bats should never be touched with bare hands. Always wear gloves when removing bats. Only a small percentage of bats (about one-half of one percent overall) have rabies, but anyone bitten by a bat should immediately seek medical consultation.
A solitary bat – often a lost youngster – will occasionally fly into a home, garage or other building through an open door or window. When this happens, the bat’s primary goal is to escape safely back outside. As long as no direct human contact with the bat has occurred, it can be released outdoors.
These bats will usually leave on their own if a window or door to the outside is opened, while interior entrances are closed.
If the bat does not leave on its own, it can be safely captured and released outside. (See the illustrations). Wait until the bat lands, then cover it with a small box or other container. Slip a piece of cardboard between the wall and the container, gently trapping the bat inside. Wait until nightfall and, with the bat inside the cardboard-covered container, take it outdoors and release it.
Most bats, however, cannot take flight from the ground. The bat can be released by holding the container aloft, lifting the lid and gently tilting the container to the side. The bat should fly out and away. Or you can hold the container against a high wall or the branch of a tree and slowly remove the cardboard. After a few moments, the bat should cling to the surface and can be left there.
If the bat appears unable to fly and falls to the ground, it may be injured or sick. In that case, gently return it to the box, cover it and call a local wildlife rehabilitator (here are two sources of rehabilitators, courtesy of batworld.org and basicallybats.org) or your local animal control or public health office.
If bats move in
As bats lose their natural roosts in trees and caves, they are sometimes forced to seek shelter in human-made structures. There is little reason to evict these highly beneficial animals unless they are causing a problem or are considered a nuisance. Bats should, however, be prevented from entering human living quarters.
Permanently – and humanely – evicting bats from buildings is not particularly difficult, but it requires patience and attention to detail. You can do it yourself with the following detailed instructions. Or you may prefer to contact a BCI-approved bat-exclusion professional. You’ll find BCI’s state-by-state listing of professionals who pledge to use safe and effective exclusion methods here.
Where bats roost in buildings
Bats may roost in attics, soffits, louvers, chimneys and porches; under siding, eaves, roof tiles or shingles; and behind shutters (see diagram). In stadiums and parking garages, bats sometimes roost in expansion joints between concrete beams.