Bat Removal and Other Bat Facts

While they eat a lot of pesky insects, bats may be unwanted house guests.

| July/August 2010

A Southern Long-nosed Bat feeds on nectar in the Chirlcahua Mountains in Arizona.

A Southern Long-nosed Bat feeds on nectar in the Chirlcahua Mountains in Arizona.

Barry Mansell/Minden Pictures

Side Bar:   Bat Houses and More Bat Facts  

I had just entered a deep, restful sleep when a sharp elbow from my wife jolted me into a conscious but ornery state of alert. “There’s something in the attic!” she whispered. I strained my ears to catch the sound of an intruder while reaching for the flashlight I keep by the bed. After a few long minutes, I heard the noise that caused my wife such distress; a faint scratching resonated through the walls directly above the bed. As I lifted up the attic crawl door and swept the flashlight beam around the room, I suddenly was face to furry face with the intruders – a pair of brown bats.

Bats are a beneficial and generally gentle species, but they can become a nuisance if they decide to take up residence in your home or outbuildings. It is important, however, to understand the role that bats play in our environment and to shed some light on some of the common misconceptions people have about bats.

One of my earliest memories of bats involved watching them swoop and dip erratically at dusk in my hometown park. We were convinced at the time that they were divebombing us in order to get in our hair and give us rabies. What we didn’t know then was that the bats’ haphazard flight was their attempt to follow and eat insects that came out at night.

A great benefit provided by bats is their ability to consume enormous quantities of insects on their evening hunts. One Little Brown Bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour. If you consider that even a small colony of bats may contain up to 50 or more members, it isn’t hard to imagine the positive role bats play in our ability to enjoy a bug-free summer night. Because of their aggressive efforts to catch and eat insects, bats often seem to fly erratically causing some people to believe they are being attacked by the bat. In truth, bats are excellent flyers and have no problem catching insects while avoiding people.

Bats have long been associated with rabies, but very few are ever infected with the disease. In fact, less than one half of one percent of bats carry rabies. According to Bat Conservation International (BCI), a non-profit organization dedicated to conservation, education and research involving bats, in more than 50 years only 14 people have contracted rabies from North American bat species. Unlike other animals, bats infected with rabies rarely become aggressive.

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