Time to remove bats

Now is the time to remove bats from your roof, before the new generation is born in June.

Phone the Wildlife Hotline at 917-BIRD, call the National Trust office at 940-0121 or contact [email protected] for free information and advice about removing bats from buildings safely and permanently.

The procedure is cheap, easy and effective, but it cannot be done during the months of June, July, August, September, or October. Anyone planning to remove bats from the roof should do so immediately, within the next few weeks, or postpone plans until November.

‘We understand that many people are afraid of bats and we want to help calm their fears,’ said Lois Blumenthal, coordinator of the Caribbean Bat Conservation Project for Bat Conservation International (www.batcon.org ) and director of local bat conservation for the National Trust. ‘Even though bats are not dangerous and do not pose a health threat, they should still be removed from roof spaces to avoid odour problems.’

Ms Blumenthal said baby bats do not fly for several months after birth.

‘They remain behind while their mothers go out to feed on insects. Often people first notice that the bats are in the roof during the summer when the noisier young pups are present. When the mother bats return in the quiet early morning hours, these baby bats become very excited and squeaky. People hear this squeaking and they understandably want to get the bats out of the house. Because the babies aren’t flying yet, it is impossible to safely remove the bats until November.

‘With the Cooperation of Caribbean Utilities Co Ltd., Ron Moser’s Machine Shop and extensive volunteer labour, there are now over 60 bat houses distributed in all the districts of Grand Cayman.’

Ms Blumenthal explained that all these bat houses provide alternative habitat so bats don’t try to live in people’s roof spaces.

Homeowners can remove bats themselves using the instructions provide by the National Trust or hire professionals like Truly Nolan Pest control. Mr. Ken Smith, owner of Truly Nolan, commented, ‘Our methods work with flying bats. Until the young bats learn to fly, there is no way to safely remove them from the roof. Attempts to plug the holes that bats are using can backfire and force bats to enter the living quarters of people as they try to find a way back outside.’

Ms Blumenthal explained that roof-dwelling bats are helpful to humans in many ways, including the control of mosquitoes, beetles and moths. ‘Bats have already lost most of their wild habitat, but only this one species has found homes in roof spaces. Fruit bats have never been found roosting in roofs and do not use bat houses. All bats living in roof spaces here are insect-eating bats. Species of bats are as different and varied as birds, and each fills a different role in the ecology. Most species of bats need forests and caves to survive and cannot live in bat houses, but the bat houses relieve the problem of the Velvety Free-tailed Bat trying to enter roofs. The Cayman Islands have nine entirely different species of bats, and they are our only native mammals. They are not rodents and are more closely related to monkeys than to mice.’

Contact the National Trust to arrange a free slide show about bats and their benefits. This slide show can be adapted to all ages, from pre-school to adults and features unusual full colour pictures of Cayman’s bats as well as bats from all over the world. Free information sheets are also available on www.caymanwildlife.org or from the office of the National Trust.

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