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Bats are beneficial animals, but they can cause big problems when they move into a home. Disease is a large hazard of bat infestation, including histoplasmosis from breathing their waste, known as guano, and a risk of rabies from handling infected bats. Bat removal and cleanup should be handled by an expert. There are ways homeowners can prevent an initial bat colonization, or future infestations.
Less than one percent of the bat population carries the rabies virus. All contact with bats should be avoided, since rabid bats don’t always exhibit unusual behavior. Histoplasmosis is a lung disease caused by breathing a fungus present in bat or bird feces. Bat guano and urine can also cause structural damage to the home. A bat found indoors probably means bat removal will need to be performed.
Homeowners who find a bat inside the house are strongly encouraged not to touch it with bare hands. Heavy leather gloves will protect against bites. Netting or a towel can be thrown gently over the bat to capture it. If it is on a curtain or other vertical surface, a box or can be placed over the bat and a flat board or piece of cardboard slid underneath. The local health department or animal control can help submit the bat for rabies testing.
Since many bat species are protected, extermination is illegal in many areas. Bat removal is best accomplished by exclusion, and should be avoided between May and August when infant bats unable to fly are likely to be present. An expert will first thoroughly inspect the structure to see where the bats are entering and exiting. Bats can squeeze through openings as small as 1/2 inch (1.27 cm), so the inspection must cover all gables, vents, and overhangs on the building.
Once accessible openings are identified, one-way flap devices made from plastic or netting can be installed that allow bats to exit but not re-enter. When the bat removal is complete, the devices can be removed and the openings sealed. Remediation of guano and repair of any damage caused by the bats can then begin. Insurance may cover the cleanup and the exclusion process since the animals are not rodents.
Regular maintenance of the structure to identify tiny holes and crevices where bats can enter will help keep them from returning. Gable vents can be blocked with wire netting, and all cracks should be sealed with caulk. Once the bat removal is successful, a bat house can be installed in the yard if homeowners wish to keep the animals around for their insect-control abilities.
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