Look, we know how many photos of cute bats there are flying around the internet. But unless you’ve been awakened by the flutter of their bony-yet-fuzzy wings hovering directly above your face, you may not truly understand what it’s like to have one in your home. (I’ve also been startled by bats flying through rooms, hanging from doorframes and just spending some time in the bathroom, and can attest that none of these are ideal ways to meet a sneaky bat roommate.)
So if you find yourself in one of these situations, how, exactly, are you supposed to get the bat out of your house? The New York Times just ran an article on exactly this topic. Here’s what you should know.
How can you remove a bat from your home?
As tempting as it is to scream and then run away and/or out of your house, that’s not the best way to make sure the bat actually vacates the premises. According to Steph Stronsick, president of Pennsylvania Bat Rescue in Kutztown, Pa., who was interviewed for the Times article, this is what to do instead:
Dim, but don’t turn off, all of the indoor lights. If you can, isolate the bat in one room, she said. Open windows and doors leading to the outside. Keep outdoor lights on because insects will be drawn to them, which, in turn, will lure the bat outside.
If it does not leave on its own, try using a box, a container or net to capture it. But if you do, don’t be surprised if it makes a chittering noise—a sign of its displeasure.
“Bats are like people: They panic and can’t calm down,” Ms. Stronsick said.
So in my case, that meant there were two creatures that were panicked and couldn’t calm down (sometimes even more if my human roommates were around).
Bats need a drop of between five and 10 feet in order to spread their wings and fly. This means that if one is on the ground, you’re probably going to have to trap it under a box. But Stronsick doesn’t recommend releasing bats outside until dusk, near a tree they can perch on—doing this during the day could make them an easy target for predators.
And yes, there could be multiple bats—perhaps even an entire colony—living in your house at the same time, so just because you were able to get rid of one, it doesn’t mean your bat problems are over. The good news is that there are ways to prevent bats from entering your house in the first place, but that’s a topic for another day.