In South Carolina, bat removal is always one of our most in-demand services.
Bats are overwhelmingly beneficial animals. They're the only true flying mammals and they have a taste for mosquitoes, making them nature's most effective mosquito exterminators. A large colony of bats can consume tens or hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes during a single night of flying. So the next time you think about bats, think about all those bites you're not getting. Clearly we owe bats a debt of gratitude for that.
Although many people are afraid of bats, their fears are largely unfounded. Bats rarely come into contact with humans unless we stumble upon them in the areas where they're living. In nature, that would be mainly in caves, although small colonies can live in hollow trees and similar areas. They don't attack people or "fly into their hair." On the contrary, they try their best to avoid us altogether.
Their usefulness and their value to public health are among the reasons why bats are more respected than many other animals and enjoy special legal protections. That's also why at Rid-A-Critter, we practice only humane, non-lethal bat removal. That's the law, but it's also what we would do anyway. We're not "bat exterminators." We remove the bats and seal them out of your home or business, but we don't kill them.
The main reason why bats must be removed when they get into a home or other human-occupied building are all health-related. The CDC has prepared a useful guide to the health considerations of bats, which can be found here.
Our version is a lot shorter. The health risks of bats fall into three broad categories.
One of the reasons why many people are afraid of bats is because they do in fact have higher rates of rabies than do most other animals. Exactly how high is a matter of some disagreement: Estimates vary from about three percent to ten percent or higher. But unless you have a habit of deliberately entering places where bats live, this really isn't something you need to worry about because contact between bats and humans is very rare.
If you have bats living in your attic, however, then you need to stay out of there until the bats are removed. Although they don't "attack" humans, a human entering an attic where bats are living may rile them up and cause them to start flying energetically. That increases the chances of your being contacted by a bat; and although the chance of rabies being transmitted during such an incident is very slight, it's not impossible.
So if you have bats in your attic, please stay out of there until the bats are removed. And if you have any reason to believe that you've been in direct contact with a bat, seek medical attention immediately, especially if you have been bitten or scratched.
Risks Associated with Guano
Like all animal droppings, bat droppings (called guano) can serve as a breeding medium for insects as well as bacterial and fungal diseases; and bats produce a lot of guano. We've removed literally tons of it from some long-standing bat jobs.
The biggest health risk associated with bat guano is histoplasmosis, a fungal disease of the respiratory system that is spread by spores. Although treatable, histoplasmosis ranges in severity from producing no symptoms at all to causing life-threatening respiratory infections. It's another good reason to stay out of attics and other places where bats are living.
Like all wild critters, bats carry their share of parasites like mites, fleas, ticks, and so forth. Some of these parasites are capable of spreading bacterial and arboviral diseases, although it's unclear whether they do in South Carolina. Bats and their parasites have definitely been implicated in the spread of diseases overseas.
One parasite unique to bats is called, appropriately enough, a bat bug. They look virtually identical to bed bugs; and although they prefer bats' blood, they'll feed on humans if they have to. When the bats are removed from an attic it's important to inspect for these parasites, and treat for them with insecticides if any are found, to prevent them from migrating into the living areas of the house after their hosts have been removed.
Like bed bugs, bat bugs can be very difficult to control once they get into a home. We generally remove them all non-chemically when we vacuum up the guano and contaminated insulation. But when necessary, we also apply insecticides to prevent them from becoming established in the people-occupied parts of the building.
Bat control is actually very simple in theory: We wait for the bats to leave, and we make it so they can't get back inside. We do this using a variety of one-way devices that prevent them from getting back into a building once they've left for their nightly meals. When they come back, they try all the ways they know of to get back inside, and then they give up and leave unharmed.
The practice of bat control is a lot more difficult than the theory, however. Bats are actually very tiny animals who can fit through very tiny gaps, so bat exclusion is among the most detailed work that we do. We can't miss even the smallest openings. If we do, bats will very likely find it and get back in through it.
Bat-proofing a building can take a single afternoon or several days for most houses, depending on the size, general condition, and whether or not the builder made even a token attempt to seal the house against animals. Large commercial buildings can take several weeks to completely bat-proof, again depending on size and general condition.
Once the bats are gone, we have to address the aftermath. Bats don't generally do significant damage like rodents or raccoons do, but they sure enough make one heck of a mess. We remove their guano and tidy up the place as part of our bat-removal work. We also remove and replace the contaminated insulation, if necessary. Usually it is, for both odor-control and health reasons.
Here are a few pictures of some of the many bat control and bat-proofing jobs we've done in South Carolina. Please contact us for more information about our humane, non-chemical bat control programs.
Cameron holding a bat he removed from a house
Bat removal from a big building
Bats in the attic of a house in Sumter
How bats were getting into the house in Aiken SC
Bat sealed out of a house in Columbia
Bat entry hole in a house in Columbia
Bat guano in the attic of a church in Columbia
Bat control job at a commercial building
Bats sealed out of the attic of a home in Columbia
Bats in an attic in Aiken, South Carolina
Entry point found at a bat-removal job in Columbia
Bats excluded from a house in Beech Island, SC
Engorged bat bug feeding on a bat
Bat guano under a gable vent at a house in Aiken
Bat removal from the press box of a stadium
Bat guano in the attic of a house in Columbia
Homeless bats after being sealed out of a house
Bat removal in Aiken, South Carolina
Jumping through hoops at Aiken SC bat job
Bat-proofing a commercial building in Columbia
Aiken, South Carolina bat removal job
Chad sealing bats out of a house in Lexington
Bat entry hole in a house in Columbia
Close-up of a bat removed from attic of a house
Dean and Jason bat-proofing a large hospital
Bat guano on the roof of a house in Aiken, SC
Bats huddled in an attic during a bat removal job