Most wildlife problems you will commonly encounter in Southern Ontario are more of a nuisance than a danger. They can be an expensive nuisance and can expose your family to some unsanitary conditions. In extreme cases, they can even potentially expose your family to minor health risks. When it comes to interacting with bats however, it is a much more serious situation. Sharing your attic or living space with these pests can lead to a few different potentially life-threatening conditions. Bat related fatalities are extremely rare in Canada, having said that a B.C. man died last year after being infected by a rabid bat. So it’s best to take the necessary precautions and evict them quickly and safely, decontaminate any affected areas of your home and property and put in place preventative measures to ensure they won’t be back. When dealing with this species of nuisance wildlife, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Signs You Have a Bat Problem
It’s not uncommon for you to go years before noticing you have a bat infestation. They hibernate during the colder months and because they are nocturnal and very quiet, they often go unnoticed during the summer months as well. There a few things you can do to help determine if you are hosting a colony of bats in your walls or attic. Keep reading to learn what to look out for:
- Guano – Bats will relieve themselves as they squeeze in and out of your home. Take a walk around the perimeter of your house and look for piles of bat guano. See picture to learn what guano looks like.
- Seeing Bats – Another common way you may be alerted to the presence of bats in your attic is to see them flying in and out. They will leave their roost in the early evening so keep an eye out during those times. Occasionally they may find their way into your living space as well.
- Scratching Sounds – Although they are usually quiet as they come and go, occasionally one will get stuck in a wall cavity. In these instances, the pest will scratch and flap its wings in an attempt to get free.
- Foul Smells – Another indicator you may have a bat problem is a pungent smell coming from your walls or attic. Because colonies can have dozens or even hundreds of animals in them, over time the guano and urine will begin to smell. Keep in mind guano is toxic if inhaled and can lead to a very serious respiratory illness.
If you keep an eye out and know what to look for, it can save you a lot of hassles and money if you deal with the issue before it gets out of hand.
Why Bats Are Dangerous
Although exceptionally rare for people to contract an illness from these pests; when it does happen it’s very, very serious. Bats are known to be carriers of over 60 zoonotic (can be spread to humans and pets) diseases, however, only the two we will focus on are considered a serious health risk to you:
Bats in southern Ontario are known to carry the rabies virus. Because oftentimes when a bat scratches or bites you it goes unnoticed, having bats in your home is a serious problem. It’s estimated that 90% of rabies cases in humans come from contact with bats.
The disease is spread through a bite or scratch that breaks the skin or accidental ingestion of saliva. If you have come into contact with a bat or suspect you may have been bitten or cratched, contact a medical professional immediately. Acting quickly is important.
Histoplasmosis is a serious respiratory disease caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. This fungus is found in bat guano and is typically contracted by humans who accidentally ingest the fungus from dried bat guano. It is typically only fatal with the elderly, infants and people with compromised immune systems.
If you have had a bat problem in your home, it is very important you hire professionals to clean up and decontaminate the area. Do not attempt this process on your own.
Other dangers include contaminating parts of your living space as well as damage done to your building as they come and go over the years.
How to Get Rid Of Bats
Now that you have confirmed the presence of bats in your home and understand the dangers of having these critters living in your attic and walls; it’s time to act quickly to minimize the health risks and damage. Most species of bats found in Ontario are protected therefore it is illegal to harm or kill them. For this reason, you should hire a professional wildlife and pest company to humanely, legally and safely evict your unwanted pests. This is how bat exclusion and prevention works:
- Eviction – The first step is to get the unwanted pests out of your home. This is done through prevention and the use of bat doors. A wildlife technician will secure any and all possible entry points on your home, making sure no bats can get back in. After this, a bat door will be placed on the main exit point. This is a cylindrical apparatus made out of corrugated steel wiring. The bat door is wide at the opening and gets thinner as it progresses allowing the bat to exit through the area, but not fly back into your attic. These doors can not be used between June 15th and August 15th. This is because the young bats will die if their mom is locked out of the roost. this is not only cruel, illegal and inhumane but it can also lead to serious problems in your home if bats perish in your walls and attic.
- Seal of Entry Point – Once a month or so has elapsed the bats will all have left your attic. You can confirm this due to the fact there will be no new bat guano around the exterior of your home and no bat activity around your home in the evenings. At this point, the wildlife company will return, remove the bat doors and seal off the entry points.
- Decontamination – The last step in the process is to clean up the bat guano and disinfect the area. This should only be done by wildlife professionals. As mentioned above a serious lung infection called histoplasmosis is transmitted through dried bat guano being ingested. be very careful around affected areas.
Out of all the wildlife and pest issues you will encounter a bat infestation is the most serious from a health risk perspective. If you suspect you have bats call a professional immediately. This is not the time to try and save a few dollars by doing it yourself. It can lead to serious health risks as well as heavy fines from the ministry if any animals are harmed.