There are more than fifteen species of bats that live in the state of Washington. Learn more about what species of bats live in the Northwest in one of our previous blogs. Oftentimes, bats are seen when they live within proximity to human habitats. Once dusk falls, bats will leave their roosts to feed on a variety of insects which is one of the reasons bats are so beneficial. Some bats are known to consume their body weight in insects making them an imperative part of the natural balance of living things. Without bats, we would experience a far greater influx of insects like those pesky mosquitos we all love. However, when bats enter our homes, the last thing we are concerned with is how beneficial they can be. We simply want to ensure that they leave and never come back!
Eating Behavior- Bats feed on a variety of different insects that help balance the ever-populating insect kingdom. They eat anything from moths, beetles, mosquitos, termites, flies, spiders, grasshoppers, crickets, scorpions, and pretty much any night-flying insect you can think of. Since bats are nocturnal, they hunt at night where they perch themselves on a temporary roost awaiting their prey or take their victims in flight. By using echolocation they can distinguish where their food is located by emitting high-pitched sound waves that bounce back allowing them to interpret the whereabouts of their next meal. One may think that they capture their food in their mouths but sometimes bats pick up their prey by scooping them into their tail or capturing them within their wing where they then feed themselves by placing the insect in their mouth. The small bones in the bat’s wings work similarly to that of a human hand allowing them to feed themselves. These different mechanics of consuming their meals is why their flying patterns can seem erratic when observed during the evening hours.
Hibernation– Bats need to hibernate during the colder seasons. Though their bodies need to be kept in a cool state it’s important that they do not freeze. This is why they will look for places to keep them protected as they stow away for the winter. Cavities in trees, caves, old wells, attics, chimneys, tunnels, and old mine shafts are just some of the places bats can be found hibernating. They can hibernate alone or as a group but the important thing is that they are protected from any disturbances and freezing weather. Staying cool during hibernation also helps them to retain water so they do not dehydrate.
Lifespan– Bats do have predators but they still have the potential to live as long as 20-30 years depending on the species. Some of the predatory threats to a bat’s lifespan are owls, cats, raccoons, and birds like hawks. Other threats include long freezing winters, heavy storms during migration periods, direct or indirect exposure to pesticides, and habitat alteration. Unfortunately, with all the varying threats humans are the main reason bats live shorter life spans however they are the world’s longest-lived mammal for their size.
Breeding Habits– Bats in Washington are known to breed during the later part of fall or winter where they hibernate during the colder season. Females will store the male’s sperm until the following spring when fertilization will take place once the hibernation period is over. Pups are then born and raised in nursing colonies where only they and breeding females will be present. During this time males roost alone or in smaller groups. Because breeding females need warmer nursing grounds, humans will often find them roosting in their attics and other areas of their homes due to warmer temperatures where breeding females can efficiently raise their young since warm temperatures help speed up both the fetal and afterbirth development process. Most female bats will produce one pup each month from May through July depending on the species, weather, and locality. Young bats will remain with their mothers until they are able to fly.
How Do Bats Get Inside My House
Like most animals during the colder seasons, bats will look for a protective area where they can roost and hibernate. Homes and buildings of humans are attractive to bats because they offer warmth and shelter. If your home or building has open entry points available for bats to get through they will make their way in if they desire. Some areas to be aware of where bats can have access are:
- Gaps under shingles
- Joints between window frames
- Siding that is not sealed
- Pipes or wires that are externally exposed leaving space for them to squeeze into
- Roof edges
- Fascia boards
- Joints around any large external beams
- Any area of a home that is not properly sealed to prevent them from getting in
It may seem as though there are a lot of ways for bats to get in and that is certainly the case but with knowledge of where to look these areas can easily be properly maintained so that bats along with other animals are prevented from coming inside your home.
How Do You Get A Bat Out Of Your House
If you notice that you have bats in your house the probability is that they have been there for a while if they are roosting or in hibernation mode. Having a bat fly into your home is not necessarily a sign that you have more than one bat living within your residence but it is worth looking into. If bats have been living within your residence there are a few tips to safely and effectively get rid of them, however, having a professional pest control technician come out is your safest bet as breathing in bat guano can be dangerous to your health. Part of getting rid of bats will include cleaning up after their droppings which is what exposes you to health dangers outside of potentially get bit by a rabies-infected bat. If you do try to manage getting rid of bats on your own you will want to wait until late summer to early fall to ensure that you do not trap in young pups or unnoticed bats that may be hunkering down for winter. During this short window of time, you will want to encourage the bats to leave the roosting space or wait until they leave in search of food. This is the best time to ensure that no bats are left inside as you will then seal the point of entry so they cannot return. Depending upon the location of their encampment will determine how easy or challenging this is which is another reason a professional is best suited for this task.
Now, if a bat simply flys into your home the best approach is to get it into a closed space like a bedroom where it will be easier to remove it. Once it is in this space, you will want to leave it in there until dusk or nighttime allowing it to calm down. Make sure that the underpart of the door is sealed so that it cannot sneak out from underneath. Once you feel it has calmed down you will want to enter the room and open up a window where it can fly out on its own. Position yourself at a corner of the room so you are out of the way. Because bats like high places, you may have to take a broom or pole to test areas that it could be hiding; especially if you do not see it exit upon opening the window. Be prepared for the bat to fly around as it is just trying to orient itself but rest assured that it will find its way out once it does.
Encountering a bat inside your home can be very unnerving but you can get a bat out of your house if needed. If at any point you do not feel comfortable or able to deal with the situation, call your local pest control specialist to come help with bat removal.