We have recently received a couple of comments about bats on the series of bat posts we published last summer about our local Adirondack bats. Populations had been dropping because of the spread of the devastating new disease White-nose Syndrome along the Eastern US, however, it seems these recent comments are a sign that our local helpful bats are still around.
“We have over 100 living in our roof. They have been living there over 40 years. We have never found a dead one, except in our cats mouth!” ~Cathy Baer
Nancy Castillo sent us a link to her story that she recently blogged about describing how a bat got into her bedroom.
“I had a batty room mate the other night. It snuck in some small opening, probably along the edge of my sliding screen door. It was greeted by my cat, and the chase and flapping of wings woke me up. I flipped on the light switch and met my roommate for the night: a Big Brown Bat!” Read the rest of her story here.
Because of these comments I was contemplating writing an update on the local bat situation. Then, last weekend I was surprised one night to have an up close and personal bat sighting as one flew around inside my house! Coincidence or fate? In any case, I’ve decided to share that story with you.
A Surprise Visitor
It was perhaps around 9 or 10 o’clock at night, and I was downstairs alone reading when I saw something fly through the air out of the corner of my eye. My first thought was a large moth, but as I looked up I saw it fly by again and realized it was a bat!
I immediately got up and quickly moved to turn on more lights, ducking and flinching all the while. I’m not afraid of bats, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful. I wouldn’t want it to land on me or try to catch it with my bare hands in case it may bite or scratch and transfer some disease.
Going into the bathroom, I grabbed two small towels (one for each hand) and waited for the bat to land, so that I could toss one towel on the bat or gently grab it in the towels to bring it outside. I know it’s better to have gloves and trap it with a container, but I had none.
I got a closer look at the bat when it landed a few times, and I believe my visitor was a little brown bat. I spent several minutes watching it repeatedly circle around the open rooms downstairs, and then my heart dropped when it flew up the stairs.
The good things about upstairs: 1) lower ceilings so I could reach the bat if it landed there. 2) Doors that I could close to trap the bat in one room to make it easier to catch. Downside, it was dark up there.
Worrying that the bat would fly into my face at any moment, I slowly went up the stairs at a crawl and turned on the hallway light at the top. The bat flew down the hallway into a bedroom and I quickly followed and trapped it in there.
It took several more minutes for me to catch it, but finally I managed to toss a towel on the bat when it landed on the floor and carefully picked it up, kept it covered, and took it outside. It began to make a sort of chirping noise when the towel covered it, perhaps in distress or trying to make out the appearance of the obstacle with its echolocation?
After I released it, I looked to see if any of the open windows had a hole in them or if the door was left open but no. I had no idea how it go in unless it crawled through the doggy-door, which seemed unlikely. Then, today we discovered that the screen had fallen out of my brother’s window, so that seems to solve the mystery.
How to Catch a Bat in Your House
While I managed to catch the bat safely and didn’t harm it with my methods, the New York State Department of Health has some recommended steps you can follow to do the same:
- Close windows, room and closet doors
- Turn on lights if the room is dark
- Wait for the bat to land.
- Wearing gloves, cover the bat with a coffee can or similar container.
- Slide a piece of cardboard under the can, trapping the bat.
- Tape the cardboard tightly to the can.
- If the bat had previously come in contact with someone or a pet, then immediately contact your local health authority to determine if rabies examination of the bat is recommended.
- If not, then take the bat outside and set it free.
- Scientists identify key fungal species that help explain mysteries of white nose syndrome (sciencedaily.com)
- Battle for Bats (asummerofmammothproportions.wordpress.com)
- Timber Rattlesnake Safari (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Daylily Days 2013 (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Steamboat Sighting (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
We had bats in our attic in Essex and also our house on Cumberland Head. They found their way into our living space with some frequency. The way to “get rid of them” is simple:
Leave the lights off.
Open a door or window to the outside in the room the bat is flying around in.
Close other internal doors.
Wait a few minutes.
[If you watch, you’ll see that they circle a few times, then shoot out the opening to the outside… that echo location is pretty fantastic. I don’t think I’ve ever waited more than about three minutes… and I suspect they were gone before I opened the door again.]
Seems easier than tackling them with a blanket or a can…
Katie Shepard says
That does seem easier. However not sure how well it would work out here because we only have doors upstairs on the bedrooms, and all the windows have screens that take some fanangling to get off. Which is why it was strange that the one in my brother’s room had apparently fallen out. But I’ll definitely try it if there is a next time. Thanks for the tips!
G.G. Davis, Jr. says
Wonderful advice, Colin. Perhaps you should write a “How to De-Bat your House” post for the Essex blog! 🙂