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Humane Bat Removal by Rid-A-Critter

Athens-Clarke County, Georgia Regional Office

The Importance of Bat Control

Bat control job at a commercial building

Bat control job at a commercial building

Bat removal is one of our most important and most popular services. Bats are very common in the Athens, Georgia area, and when they get into homes and other buildings, they have to be removed.

Most of our bat-removal work occurs during the summer, when bats are most active; but we get bat calls in the winter, too, especially during warm spells.

Whatever the time of year, however, bat control is very important.

Although the fear of bats that many people have is unfounded -- they're actually overwhelmingly beneficial animals who never deliberately attack people except in self-defense -- bats in a home present a serious health risk and need to be removed and excluded. Over time, they can generate huge amounts of guano (poop) and urine, they can cause odor problems, their parasites can vector diseases, and they have a fairly high incidence of rabies.

It's also necessary to clean up after the bats to remove their guano and displaced parasites, and sometimes to replace contaminated insulation to remove odors and pathogens. Contaminated insulation can't be cleaned. It has to be replaced.

Bat Bugs

Close-up of a bat bug

Bat bugs are almost identical to bed bugs

Among the parasites commonly carried by bats, one is somewhat unique. It's called a "bat bug," fittingly enough, and it's pretty much indistinguishable from a bed bug. The two insects are so hard to tell apart that even professional entomologists have to take a very close look.

In fact, the biggest difference between bat bugs and bed bugs is that bat bugs prefer bat blood to human blood. But they prefer human blood to dying of starvation; so once we remove the bats, the bat bugs will look for other hosts -- like you and your family, the people living in the house.

Although bat bugs are not known to carry diseases, they sure can create an annoyance once they get into your home's living spaces. Once they get established in your home, bat bugs can be every bit as difficult to control as their bed bug cousins. That's another good reason to take bat problems seriously, as are the other parasites that they carry like fleas, ticks, and mites.

Bats and Rabies

In addition to the disease-causing organisms in their guano and carried by their parasites, bats themselves have a fairly-high rate of rabies. By the time symptoms of rabies in humans or other animals begin to manifest, the disease is no longer curable, and the infected person or animal is doomed to a very unpleasant death.

Between five and ten percent of bats are estimated to be infected with rabies. Nonetheless, the risk of directly catching rabies from a bat is very low because bats and people rarely come in contact with each other in the course of their normal activities. Once bats are living in your home, however, the risk of contact obviously increases, and the bats must be removed.

The risk of rabies is another reason why you really shouldn't try to do your own bat control. Given the infection rates, it's a virtual certainty that some of the bats in any large colony (including the one in your attic) are infected, so the last thing you want to do is go getting them all agitated and flying around inside the attic. Call us instead. We're professionals. It's what we do.

Speaking of which: In addition to being important, bat control is also very challenging. Bats have very small bodies and can squeeze through tiny openings to get into a home. Bat-proofing a house or building requires exquisite attention to detail, as well as all kinds of specialized equipment and tools. It's also hazardous work both because of the disease organisms and because of the necessity to work up high, where the bats are. It's really not a DIY-sort of job.

Bat Biology

Of the 16 species of bats that we know make their homes in Georgia, two of them, the Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) and the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus), are the ones we most commonly encounter in the field as the bats most likely to set up housekeeping in human-occupied buildings.

Bats collectively comprise an entire taxonomically order. They belong to the order Chiroptera, which literally means "winged hand," and that's a pretty apt description of a bat's front limbs. They look like a stubby arm with a massive hand and very long fingers, with webs extending between the digits. These wings give bats remarkable flight abilities. Guided by both their sonar and their vision (bats are not blind), bats are able to fly with impressive speed and great precision, and to perform remarkable maneuvers.

Their flying ability sets bats apart as the only mammals who can truly fly, meaning that they can take off, gain altitude, maintain sustained flight, and maneuver in the air. Flying squirrels, the only other mammals who can fly at all, don't even come close to bats' flying prowess. Flying squirrels really just glide, although with impressive accuracy. Bats can truly fly.

Why There's No Such Thing as a Bat Exterminator

Bats in the wild are very beneficial animals. They survive mainly on insects and find mosquitoes to be especially delicious. In fact. the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that a single bat can consume between 600 and 1000 insects every night. That's a lot of mosquitoes. Multiply that by the number of bats in a typical colony, and it becomes clear that bats perform a profoundly important public health service. The mosquitoes that they eat present a far greater health risk than do the bats themselves.

Because bats are overwhelmingly beneficial, the species that like to move into our attics are protected under both federal and state wildlife conservation laws. That means that they're not considered "pests" that can be killed at will. They're considered "nuisance animals," and they get treated with a lot more respect. Unlike "pests," the law requires that bat control be performed using methods that don't harm the bats.

That's why if someone tells you that they're a "bat exterminator," what they're really telling you is that they're a criminal. It's illegal to control bats by killing them, and anyone who deliberately sets poison or traps to kill bats is likely to wind up in jail some day. Not only that, but a homeowner who knowingly hires such a person to solve their bat problem by killing the bats may very well wind up sharing a cell with their "bat exterminator."

Non-Toxic Bat Removal and Exclusion

At Rid-A-Critter, we never use poisons to control bats. we control them using exclusion, or "bat-proofing." This basically means that we seal the bats out of a house or other building so they can't get back in. Exactly how we do this depends on the type and size of building, but the general idea is always the same: We seal the bats out so that after they get done dining on insects during their nightly flights, they can't get back into the building.

This surely annoys the bats. We suspect that many bat cuss words are hurled our way by the bats that we evict. But being seald out of a house doesn't harm them. They'll fly around for a while and try all the ways they know of to get back in; but eventually they'll give up and find some other place to live. It might represent a lifestyle change for them if their new digs aren't as comfy as your attic, but the bats will be okay. They're very resilient.

Bat-proofing a building can take several days depending on the building's size and how many opening there are to seal. We can't rush this kind of precise work. If we miss a single hole, the bats will find it; so we approach every bat exclusion job methodically, with a great deal of precision. It's really very meticulous work.

We also clean up after the bats, including hauling away their guano, which can amount to hundreds of pounds of poop in a house with a long-standing bat problem. If needed, we can also replace the contaminated insulation. This is important for both health reasons and odor control. In many cases, you'll also save on energy because the modern, high-quality insulation that we install is much more efficient than what was available just a decade or two ago.

Because of their small size, bats are among the most difficult of all animals to exclude from a building. The flip side of this, however, is that when we seal your home against bats, you're also getting protection against gray squirrels, flying squirrels, rats, birds, and all sorts of other critters who tend to take a liking to attics. They're all bigger than bats, so bat-proofing your house will keep these other animals out, as well.

Bat Control Gallery

Here are a few pictures of some of the many bat control and bat-proofing jobs we've done in the Athens, Georgia area.

Please contact us for help with bats or any animal problem. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

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The Athens, Georgia office of Rid-A-Critter provides bat removal and bat-proofing in Athens-Clarke and Greene Counties in Georgia and their surrounding areas, including Athens, Bogart, Commerce, Good Hope, Greensboro, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Watkinsville, and Winder. Your town not listed? Contact us.

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