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Bats in a Spanish Barrel Tile Roof



02.22.2004 - Here we have a Brazilian Free-Tail bat flying out of one of its favorite natural habitats - the Spanish-style, Barrel-tile, Makes-me-smile roof. But mostly it makes me frown, because it's a pain in the butt to get the bats out and seal every last tile. Down here in Florida, fancy multimillion dollar homes like this one have barrel clay tile roofs. The tiles look fancy, they deflect heat, they attract bats. Bats, especially these free-tail bats, just love to live in barrel tile roofs.

I've read that the Brazilian (also known as the Mexican) Free-Tail can tolerate heat up to 140 degrees, but it must get hotter under these tiles. In the area these bats roosted, there was no cool crevice to climb in, and the bats lived year-round. I've seen bats in barrel tile roofs that I could fry an egg on. I really don't know what the microclimate is like inside the tiles, but it's got to be roasty toasty (the scientific term for above average habitable conditions).

So the bats hang out in sweltering heat all day, and then at dusk, out they fly, in search of insects. When they drop out of the tile, they look something like shown in the above photo. In this photo, the home features concrete end-guard around the perimeter of the tiles. However, the concrete did not full encapsulate the gap, and as we all know, these bats only need about 3/8 inch of space to squeeze out of. In fact, they seem to prefer as tight a spot as they can get. They often won't fly in and out of a big gap. I suppose that they feel safe inside an area with such a small door.

The challenge for me in this case, and any case involving barrel tile roofs, is to seal off all of the entry points. Though it was not the case with this particular roof, oftentimes I have to seal around nearly the entire tile. There are a number of techniques, some involving sealant, small netting, or both. I think I've heard grumbling once or twice from various people that the roof needs to "breathe". Animals need to breathe, roofs do not. I've seen barrel tile roofs in which every gap around each tile is sealed with concrete or caulk, and the roofs are in perfect shape.

Do it yourself: Visit my How To Get Rid of Bats page for tips and advice.
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