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Bats in the House

08.18.2005 - Few events in my field seem to cause as much gut-fear as live bats flying around in the house. Only snakes and rats seem to do a better job of eliciting shrieks, fainting, and pant-soiling from unwary homeowners. Well first of all, calm down. The bats will not attack. These bats in the home don't want to be there any more than you want them there. Whereas rats often enter the home on purpose - because people tend to store food in the pantry, bats enter homes by mistake.

Most people wonder how the bats got in. "Did I leave a window open?" they think. "No you didn't", I think. This is because every single last case of bats-in-the-house that I've ever seen has been the result of a concurrent problem with bats in the attic. I've never seen a random bat simply fly into someone's house. Each and every time bats get in the house, it's because a colony was living in the attic, and the bat(s) wandered down from the attic, crawled through the walls, and found some gap through which to crawl and enter the home. Once in, they have no idea how they got there, and fly around stupidly. The principle is the same as a lobster trap - small opening leads to a larger cavity, and the thing doesn't know how to find the opening again. However, since bats are less delicious than lobsters, most people want them removed.

Let's examine the particulars of the case featured in the above photo. First of all, we see that we've got more than one bat. In fact, I think we got 28 in this case. Second, we see that they are all flying clockwise around the living room. This is unusual, since bats usually fly counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. However, they are obeying the rule of all flying in the same direction, and single file. Anything less could result in nasty mid-air collisions. The astute eye will also identify these bats as Brazilian Free-Tails, and the astute reader will note that the date of the photo was August 18th. The astute biologist knows that young freetails start to fly in early August, and the astute wildlife operator knows that young bats are inexperienced morons compared to their sophisticated parents. This inexperience leads them to do dumb things, such as wander away from the attic, where they belong, and down into the home, where trouble awaits. It's the same sort of clouded thinking that could lead a juvenile homo sapiens to attend Florida State University. Thus, the young enter the dull void, where they fly in circles, getting nowhere, and causing distress to everyone around them. As for the bats, they at least looked for an exit, and finding none on their own, eventually find one via my bat catching net.

 The homeowner wondered why so many entered the home. We can once again draw upon our misdirected FSU student analogy, and just call it a case of monkey see, monkey do. Bats are social creatures, and will often mindlessly follow each other about. One bad leader, and the results speak for themselves. In this case, the bats were actually living in the chimney column (not the flu) and the young found an entry in the fireplace and into the home. I removed all of the bats in the house, a process that took over three hours one night (an emergency midnight call) and then another midnight trip the following night for a couple of bats that had been hiding during my first trip. I removed the entire colony safely from the chimney flu, and sealed everything permanently. Problem solved!

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