Author: Jodie Owen/Thursday, May 18, 2017/Categories: Conserving, Enjoying, Home, News
RALEIGH, N.C. (May 18, 2017) – Now that bat pup season is underway, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission encourages homeowners to not conduct any bat eviction or exclusion until the end of July.
May through July marks the time frame when female bats are raising their young — called pups. Young bats, like other mammals, depend on their mother for survival during the first few weeks of life. If a homeowner installs an eviction device or covers up the hole that bats have used to get into the house, female bats will not be able to get to their young after a night of feeding, and the young bats will starve to death. If any bats are sealed inside, including pups that can’t fly, they will search for a way out and will die inside the house, or find their way into the homeowner’s living space.
Many bat species only take three to four weeks to fly, but some may require a slightly longer developmental period. However, different species of bats give birth to live young at different times during the summer, hence the three-month range.
“Once the pup-rearing season has ended in late July, homeowners who have bats in their house should determine how they’re getting into the house,” said Jessie Birckhead, an extension wildlife biologist with the Commission. “Bats can fit through an opening as small as 1 inch by 1 inch, so homeowners should look for small holes, cracks in house siding or fascia and tiny spaces around utility boxes, all of which can allow a bat to get inside a home.”
If any bats are present, homeowners will need to install eviction devices that allow the bats to leave but prevent them from coming back into the home.
“Once eviction devices have been up for a week and all bats have left, the follow-up work of permanent exclusion must be completed,” Birckhead said.
Bat eviction devices can be purchased or made from PVC pipe or a variety of other materials. More information on bat exclusion guidelines is available on Bat Conservation International’s website.
People who would rather hire a professional to exclude bats from their homes can find a wildlife damage control agent in their area by visiting the Commission’s “Have a Wildlife Problem” webpage.
Bats return to the same roosts each spring, so it is important not only to maintain your home after excluding bats, but also to help displaced bats find alternate roosting spaces when they return. Homeowners can erect bat boxes near their homes. Place bat boxes on a pole or a building, not a tree, and at least 12 to 20 feet high in a place with at least seven hours of direct sunlight in the summer.
“Tree foliage prevents direct sunlight on the box and can obstruct flight when entering and exiting the box, and having the box directly on a tree trunk increases vulnerability to predators,” said Brandon Sherrill, a mammologist with the Commission.
For tips on building, buying or installing bat boxes see http://www.batcon.org/resources/getting-involved/bat-houses.
While bats are warm and fuzzy, most people do not have warm and fuzzy feelings about them —even though bats play a crucial role in our ecosystem. All bat species that reside in North Carolina are insectivorous, consuming a vast number of insects each night. Many of the insects that bats eat can cause damage to crops. In other parts of the world, bats serve as important pollinators for fruits that humans consume every day, such as bananas, agave plants and mangos. Still others serve as seed-dispersers for a wide variety of plants, from avocados to cashews.
Setting up a bat box or avoiding the use of eviction devices during pup-rearing season can do much to benefit bats. The most serious threat to many bat species is white-nose syndrome, a disease caused by a fungus that thrives in caves where bats hibernate, killing anywhere from 70 to 100 percent of bats in a colony. Biologists first detected WNS in North Carolina in a bat from Avery County in 2011, and since that time, the disease has spread throughout western North Carolina where it affects seven species. The disease continues to spread eastward in the state and could potentially affect an eighth species if it reaches the Coastal Plain.
Although WNS does not affect humans or pets, its effects on bat colonies have been devastating.
Be Bat Friendly
People can do many things to help bat populations in North Carolina. In addition to installing bat boxes, they can:
For questions regarding bats and other human-wildlife interactions, call the Commission’s new N.C. Wildlife Helpline toll-free at 866-318-2401. The call center is open Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Read more tips on co-existing with bats and other wildlife, and learn more about bats in general by visiting the Commission’s Conserving page.
Jodie B. Owen
Download a high-resolution image above. Big brown bat roosting in the expansion joints of a Swain County Bridge. Please credit Katherine Caldwell
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