Don't plug that hole!
I am often asked what is
the biggest problem for bats, or why are bats disappearing. My answer is
“people”, but not for the reasons you might think. While most of Florida's
wildlife has problems with loss and fragmentation of habitat and changes that
affect the delicate balance of ecosystems, most bat species are not as
affected by these problems. Many bat species are happy moving right in with
us. They roost in our tile roofs, our bridges and interstate overpasses, the
eaves and attics of our homes, condominium developments, schools and other man
made structures. Often people expect to find bats in abandoned, dilapidated
buildings, but they are just as likely to be under the tile roof of a million
dollar home in a golf course development. We have noticed that bats do like
to live near and forage over golf courses!
Besides living among us,
colonial species also like to live together, often forming large colonies of
hundreds or thousands of bats in a single building. A colony like this may
provide insect control for a large area, but their practice of roosting
together makes them vulnerable. The entire colony could be destroyed in a
The problems occur when
people attempt to get rid of the bats. Well meaning people often give or
receive incorrect advice on how to evict a colony of bats. This can result in
an entire colony or their pups being sealed inside a building. So many times
I have had people tell me, “We used to have bats, but when the bats left at
night we just plugged the hole.” They were sure they were doing the right
thing. But, not every bat leaves the roost at night. Temperature,
insect availability and other factors determine whether bats leave, and when
they return. Some species may forage for an hour or so during the
evening peak of insect activity, then return to the roost and forage again in
the early morning before sunrise (another peak of insect activity).
Sealing a hole during the night will most likely cause some, if not many, bats
to be trapped inside.
Even worse, many homeowners,
pest control companies and nuisance wildlife trappers are not aware of the
baby bat season. During this time the mothers leave the roost to hunt
for insects while the young remain inside. Sealing up a bat roost at
this time will likely cause all of the babies to die of starvation. And
remember, most female bats just have only one pup per year. When a large
number of bats are killed it can take a long time to rebuild bat populations.
This slow reproduction rate makes bat species especially vulnerable to
So please help! If you
hear of someone who has a colony of bats roosting in their home and is
planning to evict them, please put them in contact with us. We can explain
the process for performing a proper “bat exclusion” and the times of the year
when baby bats are present. We can also refer them to companies that perform
bat exclusions using the proper methods.
Simply correcting this
misinformation will help save many bats! - Cyndi Marks, Executive Director