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Do bat houses work?

Bats in attic of a bat house

Do bat houses work? For many people, their house is unknowingly a bat house consisting of bats in the attic or bats in walls. Bats in attic spaces are more common than most people realize. Contaminants from bats are also an unrecognized contributor to health problems and the symptoms are often misdiagnosed by doctors who do not know that their patients are living in houses with bats.

A client of mine had a bat house and didn’t even know it. She had over 650 bats in the attic of her home. Like many other people, she found an occasional bat in her house, but she had no idea she had that many bats in the attic. She also did not realize that the bats were the cause of her and her daughter’s health problems.

Bats in attic spaces can drop significant amounts of urine and excrement (guano) on top of attic insulation.

bat guano on insulation     bats in attic urine on framing

45 gallons of bat guano was removed from the attic of another home I inspected. The structural framing in the attic was bleached white from being so saturated with bat urine. This client rarely saw a bat inside of his house.

If you discover a bat in the occupied area of your house, it is not because the bat wanted to be there. The reason is, the bat got lost and accidentally ended up in your house. If you see a bat indoors, you’ll need to inspect your attic and walls, and should put up one or more bat houses outdoors.

Bat house siding with bats

In homes with a bat infestation, it is important to inspect the exterior walls as well. I saw this loose piece of siding and as an inspector thought I should take a peek behind it. Sure enough, there were a lot of little eyes looking back at me. Bats roosting inside exterior walls can literally fill the spaces between studs with urine and guano. It is much better to have bat houses in place to prevent infestations that can cause illnesses.

Health Concern

Bats in attics and bats in walls can cause a variety of health issues including asthma symptoms, respiratory disorders, and infections.

Bacteria, mold, and viruses associated with bat urine and guano can become airborne as particulate matter. The particles in attics and walls can enter the occupied indoor environment through small points of air leakage in walls or ceilings. This phenomenon occurs each time indoor/outdoor air pressures change.

This condition can intermittently degrade indoor air quality and can acutely expose occupants to potential allergy symptoms, asthma symptoms, headaches, ADD and ADHD, respiratory infections, and bacterial and viral diseases.

Killing bats illegal

Bats are helpful to the environment and a protected species so killing bats should never be thought of as an option. Removing bats from attic spaces is a much better option than killing bats, plus you won’t be breaking the law.

Removing bats and providing bat houses

There are one-way doors available that can be installed over the openings on your home where bats enter and exit homes. The one-way doors allow them to exit, but will not allow them to re-enter. This is a humane way of removing bats from attic spaces or the walls of a home while allowing bats to safely relocate into bat houses.

To further bat-proof your home I recommend sealing all vulnerable openings on the exterior of the home. Small openings, typically quarter inch or less, can be sealed with caulk, and larger openings should have a suitable wood or metal material installed over them.

Cleaning bat contaminants safely

Once bats are removed from a home, remediation can begin. If building materials or insulation has been significantly affected with bat urine or guano, I recommend remediating those materials in the same manner as one would perform mold remediation of contaminated materials. There are a variety of strategies that should be followed depending upon the amount of contamination and the area it is located.

You can find specific remediation instructions in the book Do-It-Yourself Mold Cleaning and Prevention. This book will help you learn how to protect yourself from contaminants and prevent them from spreading.

Bat houses or YOUR house

Because a single bat can eat as many as 1500 mosquitoes per day, I recommend keeping them around by providing a safe bat shelter for them. You can provide bat habitat by installing a bat house outside of your home. You can purchase a bat house kit that you can assemble yourself or buy a bat house that’s ready to go.

bat house on home

Bat house placement is important to their survival in the wild. A bat shelter can be on the exterior of a home but should be installed up high on the siding to ensure predators cannot reach the bat shelter.

A better option is to install a bat house on a tall pole. 12 to 20 feet high in a sunny location works best. Using a tall pole will increase the likelihood of bats occupying the bat house because this ensures them that the bat shelter cannot be reached by potential predators.

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