You’re watching TV or making dinner when you hear the flapping of wings. Imagine your surprise when you discover it’s not a bird — but a bat that’s found its way into your home!
Nobody likes uninvited guests. But compared to common pests like flies, ants or mice… a bat circling above you is universally spooky. That’s because these winged creatures have developed a reputation as disease-carrying pests out to infest your home.
They’ve been known to carry rabies. And their droppings can carry diseases, too. But are bats really as dangerous as their reputation suggests?
Here’s the truth: Despite their prominence in horror films and Halloween decorations, bats are actually beneficial for the environment. In fact, bats are crucial to insect control, pollination and seed dispersal. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 10 percent of bats tested actually have rabies.
When bats do fly into your house, odds are they’re just looking for a way out. So here are a few tips to help that bat get back outside — and out of your living room.
How to get a bat out of your house
- Wear the proper protective gear. When handling a bat, never use your bare hands. Wear thick gloves, clothing and even a mask to protect yourself from bites. Bats aren’t typically aggressive, but it’s always best to play it safe.
- Keep calm. When trying to remove a bat from your home, do your best to stay calm. Avoid making loud noises or chasing the animal. It’s also a good idea to remove any pets from the room. An excited or panicked bat will be more difficult to catch.
- Trap and release. The easiest way to release a bat back into the wild is to trap it in a box or container. Start by waiting for the bat to land (likely a place it can hang). Quickly place a plastic container or cardboard box over the bat. Then, slide a piece of cardboard or thick paper under the box and take the bat outside. When releasing the bat, try letting it climb up a tree (most bats can’t take flight from the ground).
- Contact a local professional. Bats are a protected species in many states. If you aren’t confident in handling the situation yourself, contact a local pest control specialist for help.
Once the bat is safely out… the next course of action is finding how it got in.
Is a bat living in my house?
Bats prefer to roost in high places, like attics, chimneys or porch ceilings. Bats are typically quiet animals, although you might hear squeaking or scratching noises when they’re on the move. The telltale sign of where bats are roosting is their droppings – they look like mouse droppings, but larger. You might also find rub or scratch marks at the point where they enter your home.
If you do find bats roosting in your house, consider installing one-way valves or anti-bird netting in any entry points. A pest control professional can help remove the bats and make recommendations on how to keep them from coming back.
Does homeowners insurance cover damage from bat infestations?
The trouble with bats goes beyond the “ick” factor – in addition to foul odors and stains, bats can cause serious damage to your house, like chewing through wiring, insulation or walls.
Generally speaking, damage from bats isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance. That’s because pest infestations are considered a home maintenance issue, since the damage is gradual – as opposed to a sudden event, like your neighbor’s tree falling on your roof.
An insurance professional like an Erie Insurance agent can help you understand what your insurance does (and doesn’t) cover. Find a local agent in your neighborhood to ask questions or get a customized homeowners insurance quote.