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Removing a Bat From Your House

By Chris Williams on July 18, 2013.
Brown bat in the attic

Question

We had a bat loose inside our house and didn’t know what to do. I’m pretty sure we weren’t supposed to kill it, so my husband grabbed it in a towel and put it back outside. What is the recommended way to deal with a wayward bat?

Answer

What your husband did was an acceptable removal method, as long as he was wearing heavy gloves to avoid bites and scratches. And you’re right; bats are protected by law in Massachusetts and may not be killed or captured without a permit. Since bats can carry rabies, you should avoid contact with them as much as possible.

Bats will usually leave your home without any help from you. That bat doesn’t want to be in your house any more than you want it to be there. First rule is do not terrify it by chasing it through the house where it could hide in an unknown area. And, according to the Massachusetts’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, you should not call the police or fire department; they have more important duties to perform.

Leave the Bat Alone

First, remove pets and small children from the area. Bats are nocturnal so if it’s nighttime, that bat is anxious to get outside. If you can isolate the bat in a room by closing a door, that’s good. First open a nearby window (or two), or exterior door in the bat’s room and turn out the lights. Close the door and leave the bat alone. The bat should fly outside fairly quickly. If it’s daytime, follow the same steps, but be aware that the bat may hide until dusk when it will leave.

If this method doesn’t work, or you are impatient, there are other options. If the bat has landed on a curtain or other surface, you can place a coffee can, jar, or small box over it, then slide the cover or a piece of cardboard under the container, and release the bat outside. Be sure to wear heavy leather gloves when you try this or any other methods of bat removal.

Rabies is Rare, But Must Be Considered

If the bat was isolated in a bedroom, don’t allow anyone to sleep in that room until you are sure the bat is gone. Check behind curtains, pictures, and other tight places. The reason is that people, especially small children or impaired adults, may have accidental contact with a bat while sleeping and not realize it. An infected bat can transmit rabies without even biting. A scratch from an infected bat or contact with its saliva can transmit rabies. If a person or pet has been bitten or scratched by a bat during the removal process, capture the bat but do not release it. It will need to be tested for rabies and you or your pet must get medical advice.

The fact that you had a bat in your house could mean that you have bats nesting in your attic or elsewhere in your home. Call us for a professional inspection. It could also mean that you need some bat-proofing along your roof line. That means screening or capping vents and the chimney, and sealing openings along eaves and soffits or under siding that allow bats to get into your home. Our technicians are experts at pest exclusion and their work is guaranteed. Give Colonial a call.

Photo credit: cheesy42 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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