‘It’s frickin’ bats’: What to do if you have a bat in your home

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Courtesy of Utah Division of Natural Resources

(ABC4) – Holy guacamole! The bats are out.

It’s the halfway point of the calendar year, and according to wilderness and animal control experts, it’s the busiest time of the year for bats and humans bothered by their presence.

“During the middle of the summer, that’s when the young are just going to be starting to take flight,” Kim Hersey, mammal conservation coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, explains.

Just like how a human infant can start creating a whirlwind of trouble once they learn to move around and walk, baby bats are the same way in the summer. The mother bats also increase their activity by flying back and forth from their roost to search for food to feed the young.

Naturally, this can be a burden to the humans in the area that find themselves encountering more and more bats in their residences in the summer. Annette Stanfill, who owns Pest Elimination in Heber City, confirms that her call on bat removals peak between July and September. During that time, she typically gets at least one bat-related call a day, including one 10 minutes prior to speaking with ABC4.com on Tuesday afternoon.

The interesting part of these calls, they’re usually the same bats year after year returning to the same home or area across generations of bat families.

“Bats are creatures of habit, so when they migrate out, and they migrate back and when they come back in the spring, they will go to the same houses that they’ve always gone to for many, many years,” Stanfill says. “Once that house is all sealed up, then they’ll choose another house to go to, or they just choose another way into the house that’s already been sealed.”

Cases of the same bat coming back year after year have been documented all over Summit and Wasatch County, according to Stanfill.

While the pandemic has sparked even more concern about the diseases carried by bats, and Hersey says there is some evidence that COVID-19 originated from bats in Asia, she maintains that the primary concern is rabies. Even though, for the most part, rabies has been eradicated with the development of highly effective vaccines, caution should still be taken around the fanged animals, Hersay adds.

“We, unfortunately, had one fatality a couple of years ago, but overall it remains incredibly rare because we have those treatments,” she says.

Although she agrees that most people probably are “freaked out” by bats due to their appearance and nocturnal nature, Hersay explains that they actually play a vital role in the global ecosystem.

“They’re incredibly interesting and important animals. All 18 species in the state are insectivores, which means they only eat insects and a lot of those are moths and other agricultural pests,” she says of native bats in Utah.

Thanks to the insect-heavy diet that bats eat – mostly moths – the agricultural industry is spared billions of dollars in crop damage and pesticide use, Hersey further explains.

Still, should someone encounter a bat in their home, there are certain measures to take. Both Hersey and Stanfill agree that opening all the doors and windows in the house is a good place to start. Stanfill also recommends creating as much noise as possible in the house to increase the motivation for the bat, with extremely sensitive hearing, to leave the structure.

The barking of dogs, the blaring of the television, and the sound of music can all be effective in eliminating a bat issue.

“Make it a ruckus,” Stanfill recommends. “Then it will eventually fly out because they don’t like all that ruckus.”

As for whether there is a specific genre of music that bats dislike more than others, Stanfill and laughs and says not really.

“Yeah, they think jazz music is too chill,” she jokes sarcastically.

Better keep the Kenny G albums on hand, just in case.

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