Bats have been treated with superstition and fear in many cultures throughout history due to their nightly flying habits, strange appearance, and the tendency of certain species to feed on the blood of other animals. Over 1,200 species of bats exist in the world and fewer than five bat species actually feed on blood. On the contrary, most bats are actually insectivores whose feeding habits are incredibly beneficial to humans. Large bat colonies can eat up to 500,000 pounds of insects every night. They hunt common pests, such as mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, beetles, and moths, by using their large ears as radar dishes in a process known as echolocation.
The most common bat species in the United States are relatively small, with wingspans that range from 9"–15". The little brown bat, big brown bat, Mexican free-tailed bat, pallid bat, and evening bat are the most common bats that humans encounter. Each shares common characteristics, such as wings that are actually broad-webbed hands, short legs with sharp claws, large ears, and the ability to make high-pitched squeaks that aid in navigation and communication. The fur of these bats ranges from light tan or yellowish in color to dark brown and black. Most North American bats have poor eyesight and relatively small eyes.
During the day, bats spend their time together in groups sometimes numbering in the millions. They use their feet to cling upside down to the ceilings of caves, hollow trees, and buildings as they sleep. When dusk approaches, the bats awaken and fly out of cave mouths in large numbers. Darting over open fields, deserts, and yards, bats hunt throughout the night for flying insects. They often prefer to roost near ponds or lakes and rarely land on the ground since their small legs cannot support the weight of their bodies.
Are bats known to enter homes or yards?
Bats are commonly found in attics and barns, as the mammals enjoy safe, dark places. Hollow trees and bat boxes are ideal places for the creatures to roost, as well. During summer months when bat pups are learning to fly, they accidentally enter buildings through open doors or windows.
Do bats harm people or property?
For the most part, bats and humans coexist peacefully with one another. One of the largest problems associated with bat populations is the bat droppings (guano) that accumulate. Although prized in some areas as a rich fertilizer, bat guano makes people sick when it collects in attics since it can harbor dangerous fungal spores, such as histoplasmosis. These spores are easily transmitted through the air.
Control and Safety
Despite their reputation for carrying rabies, less than half of 1% of bats actually carry the virus. Regardless, bats should never be picked up or grabbed. In order to keep colonies of the creatures from roosting in attics, proper precautions should be taken to cover or seal all vents, holes, chimneys, windows, and gaps leading inside homes.
Trapping and Removal
Since bats may carry disease, homeowners and business owners should never approach them. Bats also bite and scratch when they feel threatened and can easily injure humans. Critter Control technicians are trained to humanely remove any bat problems plaguing residential and commercial properties.
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