Do you have bats in your attic? Wanna get rid of them? Then keep reading and I’ll show you how to get rid of bats and how it is easier then you may think.
Just in case you’re wondering this is not a post on bat wrestling. You don’t have to don a batman outfit and physically remove the bats yourself. The process of bat exclusion, as it is called, is DIY friendly and not harmful to the bats in question which is extremely important because bats are a protected animal in most states.
While they may be protected and they provide a huge benefit by eating upwards of 3,000 insects a night, most of us don’t want them in our houses. Even though the stereotype of bats being rabies ridden rodents looking to suck your blood is a largely a farce (only about 1% of bats are rabies carriers), their feces “guano” contains Histoplasma capsulatum, a fungus associated with Histoplasmosis which is a lung infection similar to pneumonia in humans. The bats may not be a problem but their droppings certainly are, so removing them from your house and cleaning the mess is important.
Bats prefer to nest in the same spot every night and while they may migrate depending on the season and the region, they likely will return if you don’t take steps to prevent it in the future. Let’s get into the process and how to get rid of bats yourself at your house.
How To Get Rid of Bats
Bats like dark and cozy areas to sleep during the day and nest. While they don’t build a nest per se they do search out a protected area where they can sleep and give birth. Old houses make a great home for them because there are usually plenty of gaps for them to sneak in. They need only find a hole about 3/8″ to 1″ wide to squeeze through. Once they’re in, the rafters make a great place for them to hang from and get some rest.
Important!: Check with your local wildlife control office to determine the dates when you should not remove bats. During the maternity season (usually late spring to late summer) there are flightless baby bats that will be trapped inside the home without access to food. You MUST wait until after this season to avoid harming the babies who rely on their parents returning to bring them food. Once the maternity season has passed the babies can fly and hunt for themselves and can be safely excluded with their parents.
#1 Look for Clues
If you have bats the first thing you need to do is inspect the exterior of your home for possible entry points. Gaps in siding, holes in soffits or fascia, really any little hole that a bat could fit in is suspect. Take careful note of all these potential entry points to seal up later. You don’t want these sealed up now because you will trap the bats in the house and cause bigger problems. Just note and document the areas you need to fix.
Another tell that a hole is being used as the front door to your bat hotel is dark smudges around the hole. Bats squeeze into these holes just like rats and mice do which leaves dirt and oils that show around these entrances. The entrance and exit are usually the same so make particular note of these dirty areas. They may be smaller than you expect so don’t discount them if you see dirt around a tiny gap.
The only safe way to remove bats is through a process called exclusion. Exclusion is the process of attaching nets or tubes over the openings and attaching them in a way that allows the bats to exit the structure, but prevents them from entering again.
Attach a net or screen with a minimum 1/4″ screening hole over the opening and fasten it tightly across the top and sides, but leave plenty of slack in the middle and leave the bottom open. This allows the bats to drop out of the opening and fly away but prevents them from crawling back in since they will fly right to the opening rather than try to crawl up and under the netting. The netting should extend at least 18-24 inches below the opening to work effectively.
Leave the netting in place for at least a week or two to prevent multiple attempts to re-enter by the bats. After that time they will give up and find a new place to nest. The weather must be above 50 degrees with minimal winds and no heavy rains to ensure that the bats will be going in and out. If you try to exclude your bats in inclement weather they may choose to stay inside rather than venture out.
Use a strong netting rather than typical window screen material for bat exclusion.
#3 Seal Up & Clean Up
Once the batts have been safely excluded you can take the netting down and seal up all those areas we noted in Step 1. Whether it’s caulk, carpentry, or epoxy you got to resolve all those gaps to prevent bats from coming back again next year.
Clean up the dirt and oils from the bats so bats can’t find that trail which is like a welcome mat for any other bats in the area. Depending on how many bats you had and for how long, excluding them is the easy part. The guano they left inside is a huge calling card for bats in the area and they can smell it for miles. It signals that other bats have lived there before and it is a good place to nest. It must be cleaned throughly and that involves Tyvek suits, heavy duty gloves, and respirators to keep you safe from the fungus in their droppings.
Vacuum up any droppings and affected areas like insulation. You may have to cut out drywall to remove the affected paper backing too. Once you’ve cleaned the debris out then it’s time to scrub with a firm bristle brush using a mixture of 1 cup bleach to 1 gallon water to kill the fungus and remove the scent. It’s dirty work that Mike Rowe would be proud of you for doing, but it is imperative. Proper clean up is like removing the neon “Bat Vacancy” sign that is shining brightly above your roof.
Before you get rid of bats in your house consider putting up a bat house or two. Getting them out of your house is important but that doesn’t mean you want them out of your neighborhood. Each bat eats thousands of insects each night and provides relief from mosquitos and other biting insects in a big way.
Consider setting up a bat house in your backyard to encourage these exterminators to be your neighbors rather than your boarders. You’ll have far fewer insects in your yard and if you set up the bat house before you perform your exclusion then you will give them a place to go.
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.