Bats are an important part of our ecosystem. They eat countless numbers of mosquitoes and other insects and help pollinate plants. Virginia is home to 17 different types of bats, several of which are either endangered or threatened, because of loss of habitat and other dangers. Here in the Old Dominion State, they are a protected species.
You might become suddenly aware of bats in or near your home in the next few months. In spring, female bats become pregnant after hibernating over winter. These bats form large, maternity colonies and give birth early to mid-summer. If you become aware of lots of bats in your attic that weren’t there before, then your home probably hosts one of these colonies. Most of them leave your home before fall to find a warmer place to hibernate.
Bats and Safety
While many people think bats and rabies go together, most bats are harmless and are no more likely to test positive for rabies than other animals. There are, however, some reasons to have them safely and legally rehomed.
Bats roosting in large numbers can create a huge mess over walls, surfaces, and floors. This is not only difficult and messy to clean up, but also can contribute to allergy aggravation and breathing problems. Large guano piles (or bat dung) can also contribute to disease, causing flu-like symptoms. If you have many bats roosting, professionals should be called in to help remove and clean up the mess.
If a bat manages to get into your home, the best action is to open your door and windows and wait for it to safely fly out. If you must help it out, do not touch it, but cover it with a container or cloth and gently let it back outside. Remember to wear gloves for preventive safety.
Any bat found on the ground or spotted hanging in a tree or bush should be left alone. Do not try to pick up the bat. Any bat that appears to be “acting abnormal” should be treated with caution and left alone, too. A call to a professional who can safely remove the bat should be made.
To protect bats in Virginia, it is illegal to poison, transport, release, or relocate a bat anywhere other than the property on which it was caught. If you have a bat or bats in your home, they must be humanely caught and released on your own property.
It is by far better to prevent bats from staking out territory in your home than to have them removed. To prevent bats from getting in your home, be sure to seal any openings bats could slide into. Pay special attention to gaps near your roofline and gutters.
Trees should be trimmed away from your roof to avoid easy access to your roof or attic. If you hear bumping, scraping, or other noises – especially in the evening – it could signal bats in the attic.