Bats are nocturnal animals who have the distinction of being nature's only true flying mammals. Flying squirrels can glide from a higher area to a lower one, but can't take off and climb to higher altitudes like bats can. Although they are overwhelmingly beneficial animals who are protected under both Federal and Tennessee law, when they decide to live in houses and other human-occupied buildings, bats must be humanely removed and sealed out for health and safety reasons.
One of the reasons why bats are beneficial animals is that a bat colony can consume hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes every night, depending on the size of the colony. In fact, many people install bat houses on their property to attract bats to live there just for their mosquito-control value. It's also one of the reasons why bats are protected under both State and Federal law.
Their usefulness and their value to public health are also why at Rid-A-Critter, we go above and beyond to avoid harming bats. We practice only safe, humane, non-chemical bat removal. Basically, we wait until all the bats are out of a house or building, double-check to make sure no stragglers have been left behind, and seal them out of the building so they can't get back in. We're not "bat exterminators." We're bat conservation professionals. We don't kill bats. We seal bats out to make your house or commercial building bat-proof.
Unfortunately, like most wild animals, bats carry and can vector zoonotic diseases than can be harmful or fatal to humans. The most serious disease bats can transmit is rabies, which almost always is fatal to humans once symptoms start to appear. They also have parasites called bat bugs that are so similar to bed bugs that even entomologists have a hard time telling them apart. Finally, bat guano can also transmit diseases to humans. Let's take a brief look at each of these human health risks associated with bats.
According to the CDC, bats are responsible for seven out of every ten human rabies cases in the United States. Humans can become infected with rabies through a bit or scratch by a bat or other infected animal; and by the time symptoms start to show, the disease is incurable.
If you haven't been up in your attic for a while, take a quick look around before venturing very far into the attic. Bats tend to congregate near the eaves, gable vents, or windows, although they can be found anywhere in an attic (as well as in places like bell towers, steeples, mechanical lofts, and other unoccupied structural spaces). If you see bats, calmly leave the attic, close the door, and give us a call. If you have had contact with a bat, seek medical help immediately.
Bat guano (a nicer way to say "bat poop") can serve as a breeding medium many bacterial and fungal diseases. One of the most common diseases associated with bat guano is histoplasmosis, a fungal disease that affects the respiratory system. It can range from a very mild disease that clears up on its own, to a serious disease that can cause long-term respiratory problems. If you think you may have been exposed to bat guano or its dust, you should seek medical help just to be on the safe side.
Bat bugs are small, flattened, wingless insects that are so similar to bed bugs that even entomologists have a hard time telling them apart. They also feed on blood like bed bugs do. As their name implies, they have a strong preference for the blood of bats; but like blood-feeding insects in general, in a pinch, they'll eat blood from non-preferred hosts (including humans). Once bat bugs get into the living area of your home, they are every bit as difficult to eradicate as bed bugs are.
In addition to bat bugs, bats also carry non-host-specific parasites such as mites, fleas, and ticks. Some of these parasites are at least theoretically capable of transmitting diseases from their hosts to other animals, but we're not aware of any specific cases of diseases being transmitted from bats to humans by their parasites.
The basic idea behind bat control is pretty simple. Because bats leave to feed every night, we basically seal up the house (or steeple, bell tower, movie marquee, radar tower, etc.) so they can't get back in. They're probably annoyed to find their homes "boarded up," as it were; but they eventually get over it and fly away to find other places to live.
In practice, however, structural bat exclusion is very difficult. Almost all DIY bat-proofing attempts (as well as bat-exclusion attempts by handymen) fail. The reason is because bats are very small animals who can squeeze through very tiny gaps that are often hard to find. Sealing bats out of a house or building requires finding and sealing not only the openings that the bats were using, but every opening that they might use. It's very detailed, painstaking work. It's also hazardous work because of the need to work aloft on ladders and scaffolding or using platform lifts or bucket trucks.
Finally, a proper bat-control job also requires cleaning up after the bats, addressing any bat bug or other displaced parasite problems, and usually replacing the contaminated insulation We have the staff and equipment to complete all of these steps, leaving your attic or other structural space healthy, bat-free, and odor-free.
Here are a few pictures of some of the many bat control and bat-proofing jobs we've done in Tennessee. Please contact us for more information about our humane, non-chemical bat control programs.
Bat entry gap into a house in Chattanooga
Bat entry gap into an attic in East Brainerd
Bat entry gap into an attic in Chattanooga
Bat entry gap into a house in Chattanooga
Bats temporarily sealed out of a house
How bats got into this house in Soddy-Daisy
Bat control job at a commercial building
Bat entry gap into a house in Red Bank
Bat entry gap into a house in Signal Mountain
What a bat bug looks like
Bats huddled in an attic during a bat removal job
bats in an attic in East Brainerd
Bat guano on a gable vent in Chattanooga
Bat guano in a loft
Bats in a gable vent in Middle Island
Jason and Justin on a bat removal job
Bats in an attic in Chattanooga
Engorged bat bug feeding on a bat
Bat odor removal in Chattanooga
Bat guano in an attic in Signal Mountain
Bat guano at a building in Dunlap
Bat in a gable vent in Signal Mountain
Bats sealed out of an attic in Red Bank
Homeless bats after being sealed out of a house