Bats

bats-headerPhoto by Brent Stettler UDWR

Click here for a poster on Utah bats (PDF)
Click here to download Living With Bats flyer (PDF)
Bathangs from capture bagUtah is home to eighteen species of bats; the only mammal capable of true flight. Utah bats eat mostly insects. Bats can be found throughout the state and roost in a variety of habitats, which may include caves, mines, hollow trees, leafy plants, rock cliffs and buildings. The largest Utah bat, the big free- tailed, has a wingspan of 17 inches but weighs less than 1 oz. The smallest, the western pipistrelle, is the size of a hummingbird and weighs 1/10 oz. A bat’s fur varies in color from tan, brown, rust, to black. Bats are shy animals that use echolocation to find flying insects. Bats benefit humans by eating about 30–100% of their body weight in insects each night. Most Utah bat species are year-round residents of the state and hibernate during the winter. Some bat species migrate south and remain active all year. Migrating bat species breed in the spring. Hibernating bat species usually breed in the fall. In the late spring, female bats gather in large nursery colonies where the young, called pups, are born in May or June. Natural enemies of bats include bobcats, hawks, house cats, owls, raccoons, ringtails, snakes and weasels.

Bat Vocalization


Bats: Free Pest Control

Did you know one bat could eat up to 1,000 mosquitos an hour? Enjoy natural pest control while preventing conflicts with bats. By providing bats with suitable backyard habitat, they can be encouraged to take up residence in dead trees and bat houses rather than in chimneys, attics or roof eaves.

  • Dead, hollowed out trees, and thick shrubs make good bat roosting sites. Bats will also utilize artificial bat houses. Placement of the bat house is critical. Bat houses should be at least 12 feet off the ground, face south or southeast, and receive at least six hours of direct sun each day. The bat house should face an open area with at least 20 feet of clearance, so the bats can come and go with ease. Bat houses can be mounted on poles, garages, barns, and trees, although houses on trees are harder for bats to find and will take longer to become occupied.
  • Bats also enjoy water features that attract insects, such as fountains or ponds.
  • Planting night-blooming flowers such as moonflower, four-o’clock, yucca, evening primrose, night-blooming water lily, or night-blooming jasmine will attract nighttime insect pollinators.

Installing a pole light on a section of your property will attract a lot of insects and in turn, the bats.

Legal Status:

Utah law protects all bat species. It is illegal to intentionally kill bats. Additional federal protection is extended to bat species on the Endangered Species List.

 Click here to download BAT SIGN, IDENTIFY DAMAGE AND CONFLICT PREVENTION (PDF)

 SHARE THE WILD:

BatConflicts with bats usually occur when bats use human dwellings as roost sites. Only a small percentage of bats actually carry rabies. But to be safe, any bat that behaves strangely or can be easily caught, should be suspected of being ill and should be avoided. Bats do not chew holes to make openings into buildings to set up roosting sites. They can enter buildings through open doors, windows and loose, torn screens or through existing holes at least ¼ inches in diameter.

Bats don’t normally attack humans and contrary to popular belief they do not purposefully try to land in people’s hair. A bat flying around inside a room may appear to dive at people, but in fact, the diving behavior helps the bat regain its flight speed and control.

Bat Sign, Identify Damage and Conflict Prevention

Bat Graphic

Cleaning up after bats:

When handling bat guano, always wear a respiratory mask and rubber gloves.

Atic  Roof  Penny

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Photos: Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management (ICWDM) and USDA/WS

Prevent bats from roosting in your home or property:

  • Identify bat sign. Guano, or feces, will be crumbly and full of insect parts.
  • Cool attics with fans to make it uncomfortable for bats to take up residence.
  • Inspect the outside of the building for openings and gaps in siding, chimneys, and roof lines.
  • Seal the cracks and holes with caulking, hardware cloth, foam rubber, foam sealant, tarpaper, and chimney caps. Do not do this when bats have pups in May through July. Fall is the best time to seal these opening when bats are vacating roosts.
  • You can also use bird netting to place over the opening, stapled down at the top and the sides, with the base open. The bats can drop down the netting to leave, but cannot reenter the roost. Leave it in place for 4-5 days or until all the bats have left, then seal the holes.

Bat alternative roosting

Chimney Cap  Bats roosting in a home  Bird netting
Install a chimney cap.
Photos: Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management (ICWDM) and USDA/WS

Avoiding Conflicts:

Do not seal cracks and holes in attics and rooflines during the breeding season, late May through September, doing so could result in leaving babies to die inside the property. Fall is the best time to seal these opening when bats are vacating roosts.

When possible, provide bats with alternative roosting sites by installing a bat house near your property.

Before Sealing Cracks:

Bird netting is placed over the hole, and stapled tight along the top edge and down both sides. The bottom is left open. When the bats leave they hit the netting and crawl down the siding and out the open bottom. When they return they are unable to fly back up under the netting, and cannot return to their roost. Leave this in place for at least 5-7 days to ensure that all the bats have left. (USU Cooperative Extension)

Temporary Roosts:

Bats will sometimes temporarily roost on porches and patios, in garages, and behind shutters, shingles, and roof gutters. Roosting behind shutters may also be long-term in duration. Actual control measures may not be necessary unless bat droppings become a problem or the risk of human contact is significant. Coarse fiberglass batting tacked to the surfaces where bats prefer to hang sometimes discourages them. A potentially useful intervention for the wall-ceiling interface is the application of a wide 45o molding strip to eliminate the 90o angle corner and force the bats to roost in a more exposed area. (Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management Arthur M. Greenhall Research Associate, Stephen C. Frantz Vertebrate Vector Specialist). Balloons or CD’s hung from the porch ceiling may disturb the bats enough to keep them from reusing the site for roosting.

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Most bats in Utah vacate their roosts in the fall. That is the best time to patch holes and block access points. A variety of materials, such as caulk and self-expanding foam sealant, can be sprayed on urine soaked areas. Rubber, fiberglass, or steel wool can be used to close any openings. Metal screening, small mesh (<1/4 in. diameter) wire hardware cloth, or tar paper can be tacked over larger holes. (USU Cooperative Extension)

Repellants:

There are no effective repellants to stop bats from roosting.

Handling bats:

Never attempt to touch bats with your bare hands. If a person or pet is bitten by a bat, they should get medical treatment immediately. The wound should be washed with soap and water, and your doctor and the health department should be contacted. Rabies occurs in less than 1% of bats but if contracted and not treated, can be fatal. For that reason, any bat that behaves strangely (e.g., active during the day), or can be easily caught, must be suspected of being rabid and should be avoided. (USU Cooperative Extension)

Pets and Bats:

Occasionally pets catch bats. For this reason, keeping pets vaccinated against rabies reduces the risk to humans. (USU Cooperative Extension)

Alternative roosts:

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Before you exclude bats from openings on your home or building, be sure to offer the bats other places to find shelter nearby. Hollow trees, unused out-buildings and bat houses are good alternatives. Bat houses need to be secured to a tree trunk or building at least 12-15 feet above ground and out of direct sunlight. It may take a few weeks to a few years for bats to take up residence. You can find plans for building bat houses on our website.

Providing bats with alternative roosts can encourage them to remain in the area and reduce their mortality when they are excluded. Potential roost sites may include hollow trees and unused barns or out-buildings, providing the roofs are intact and large openings are closed to provide additional protection from inclement weather. In addition, bat houses can be constructed and placed around the property. Ideally, alternative roosts should be prepared before the bats are excluded from the original site. (USU Cooperative Extension)

 Click here Bat House Plans from Bat Conservation International (PDF)

 Click here Criteria for Successful Bat Houses(PDF)

Legal Status

All bat species are protected by Utah law. It is illegal to intentionally kill bats. Additional Federal protection is extended to bat species on the Endangered Species List.

 Never handle a bat with your bare hands!

  • If a bat is trapped in a room, open an outside door, or window and screen, leave the area and allow the bat to leave on its own.
  • You can move the bat to a new location wearing thick, leather gloves.
  • Place a small box/can over the bat. To create a lid, slide a piece of cardboard between the can and the wall or curtain, enclosing the bat inside the container.
  • Take the bat outside and release the bat on a tree or other high object.
  • Do not leave the bat in the container; it will have difficulty crawling out.
  • If you are uncomfortable approaching bats, or suspect it may be sick, do not attempt to capture it.

How to safely remove a bat flying around inside your home:

  • Do not swat at a flying bat. Wait for it to land.
  • ALWAYS wear gloves!
  • Open a door or window and turn off the lights inside. Turn on a porch light outside. Leave the room and allow the bat to leave on its own.
  • Use a towel to place over the bat once it lands on something low to the ground. If the bat is on a curtain or wall, use a small bucket or coffee can and place it over the bat, then slide a stiff piece of cardboard between the can and the wall, trapping the bat inside the can.
  • Take the bat outside, some distance from your home, and place it on a high area so predators cannot get to it. Do not leave the bat in the container; it will have difficulty crawling out. If it is in a towel, loosen the towel so it can crawl out.

If a person is bitten:

Get medical treatment immediately. The wound should be washed with soap and water, and your doctor and the local health department should be contacted. Every attempt should be made to capture the bat alive using the technique described above. The captured bat should then be taken to the health department for rabies testing.

Bats and pets:

Vaccinate your pets against rabies for their protection and yours. Do not let pets play with bats.

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If you have problems with bats that cannot be resolved by following these tips consult a professional, licensed animal control company. Visit this link: http://wildlife.utah.gov/habitat/nuisance_control.php

 Click here to download copy of USU Cooperative Extension, USDA/APHIS Wildlife Damage Management Series: BATS (PDF)