It’s that time of year again and a wise homeowner should check the roof for bats. From the most beautiful mansions to the simplest traditional cottages, bats are equal-opportunity trespassers! And “opportunity” is the key word.
Bats cannot chew wood; they don’t build nests or make their own homes, but they are always on the lookout for a safe a place to sleep during the day. If even the tiniest gap is left open during construction, or if soffit vents are left off, or if holes are drilled to run wires, pipes and air conditioning into the house, bats can squeeze in if they are not tightly sealed. Bats like to live in large colonies and it is common for several hundred to be roosting in a single roof.
How to remove bats
Roof bats should be removed using specially made one-way excluder pipes. Bats are native animals – in fact, they are Cayman’s only native mammal. They are not dangerous and don’t harm buildings, but odour is always a problem. Every bat consumes over 1,000 insects every night, including mosquitoes as well as moths and beetles that are crop and garden pests. But, for all their value, they still do not belong in buildings.
There are simple effective ways to get bats out humanely and permanently, but this must be done before mid-May when the pups are born. Baby bats cannot fly until November and any jobs not completed before mid-May must wait. Sometimes an exception can be made – and there are ways to minimise the problem while waiting, but the very best resolution is to get bats out before the summer begins.
How to find them
To find out if you have bats living in your home or office building, stand outside just after sunset while there is still a bit of light in the sky and watch. If you see bats flying out, do not plug the hole because this may trap bats inside, forcing them into the living areas.
Bats can be sealed out by using simple one-way doors that enable them to leave but not to return.
“We understand that some people are afraid of bats and we want to help calm their fears,” said Lois Blumenthal, coordinator of Caribbean Bat Conservation for Bat Conservation International (www.batcon.org) and director of the Bat Conservation Program for the National Trust, “Bats are not dangerous and do not pose a health threat, but they should still be removed from roof spaces to avoid odour problems. We placed over 100 bat houses around Grand Cayman to provide alternative habitat for these beneficial animals. Bats living in roof spaces are always insect-eating species. Fruit bats have never been found roosting in roofs and do not use bat houses.”