"I have bats in my attic. What's the best, most humane, way to get rid of them?"
Bats play an important ecological role by eating thousands of insects each night. But let’s face it, bats can become a nuisance when they use your home for their home. Some people don’t mind having bats in their home since bats do not gnaw through things like rodents do and they don’t pose much threat to humans. However, they can be noisy and their smell can become offensive. If you think you have bats in your house, the first step is to confirm that you actually have a bat problem. Bat droppings contain undigested insect parts and can be easily distinguished from fibrous rodent droppings or bird droppings that are mixed with white uric acid. You can also watch your building at dusk to confirm bats are exiting from your home.
Chemical repellents and poisons are not only inhumane and dangerous to humans and pets, but they are, at best, a temporary solution. Permanently sealing the bats inside the building is unnecessarily cruel and would cause a whole new set of problems. The key to ridding your home of bats is to physically exclude them from reentering. This process is not difficult but can be time-consuming because bats can use a number of entry points in your home, most of them smaller than you would think possible. Bats use buildings for hibernation throughout the cold winter months, as maternity roosts during the spring and summer, or they can be used sparingly by a few non-reproductive individuals. Late fall and winter are the best seasons to start the exclusion process in your attic if you have bats present throughout the summer. By that late fall juvenile bats are able to fly and wouldn’t be separated from their mothers. If your building has hibernating bats in the winter, never disturb them while in hibernation. Start the exclusion process before hibernation begins.
There are a few options available for bat-proofing your house. Exclusion devices can be installed on all entry points that let bats exit but not reenter. Another option is to plug entry points after bats leave to feed at dusk, or lastly you can make your home an unappealing place for roosting by placing bright lights, fans or a radio in the area they use. If you still want to keep your resident bats nearby, install a bat house near your home to provide an alternative roost. Detailed information on exclusion and bat house construction is available on the following websites: www.batsaboutourtown.com and www.batmanagement.com.