Thanks to dark tales of Count Dracula, bats suffer a bad rap. I know these creatures aren’t really out to bite my neck, but the time I discovered a small bat fluttering around our house, all my Midwestern moxie melted away.
My heroic husband came running, sensing something amiss. Perhaps it was my shrieks of “Bat! Bat! Bat in the house!”
Wielding a piece of window screen like a medieval shield, he began “herding” the bat toward the front door. I followed, shrieking unintelligibly. That’s when he calmly put down the screen and herded me to the garage — much to my humiliation. He did eventually get the bat out of the house, all without my “helpful” vocalizations.
After the incident (and with a calmer perspective), I asked renowned bat expert Rob Mies if bats have any benefit to home owners. I found out they are nature’s answer to pest control.
“One bat can consume 2,000 to 5,000 insects each night,” he says. “You can encourage bats to dwell on your property — not in your house — by building a bat house.”
You can find free plans for building a bat house online. Placement of the bat house is important too, so check out those guidelines.
So what should you do if a bat makes a debut in your den? Mies suggests these four steps:
- Assess occupants. If anyone in the house was bitten by the bat, or if they are unable to tell you whether they were bitten (i.e. a sleeping child), try to capture the bat, contact your local health department, and have it tested for rabies..
- Stay calm. The bat doesn’t want to attack you — it wants out. Turn on some lights so you can easily see the bat and the bat can see as well. (Contrary to popular belief, bats are not blind.)
- Create a path. Close the doors to adjoining rooms, then open the doors and windows in the room the bat is in. If possible, turn on a light outside so the bat can readily see the exit.
- Help it out. The bat will likely fly out the open door or window within a few minutes. You may also want to be more direct and use a small mesh net or pillow case to gently catch the bat in flight. If the bat lands and doesn’t fly again, put on a pair of thick leather work gloves, and slowly approach the bat with a small cardboard box or coffee can. Put the container gently over the bat, slip a piece of cardboard over the opening, and take the bat outside to release it.
Every had bats in your belfry? How did you get rid of them?