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The Massachusetts Homeowner's Guide to Bats has information and advice on how to evict and relocate bats, plus tips on handling a bat, designs for one-way doors, and bat house plans. This guide also features a key to identifying the nine bat species in Massachusetts.
Due to recent catastrophic mortalities of bats from White Nose Syndrome (WNS), MassWildlife biologists would like reports of summer bat colony locations. If you see a colony of bats (10 or more bats), please let us know. We study bat colonies in Massachusetts to see how many have survived after the onset of White-nose Syndrome. Our monitoring also leads to advances in conservation and management for endangered bat species, ensuring protection and security of the colonies. Please email Jennifer Longsdorf (email@example.com) to report bat colonies. Include the address, type of location—type of structure (house, building) or tree—roughly how many bats are in the colony, and approximately how long the bats have been there. Your help is greatly appreciated!
In the summer, with hot, humid weather, some homeowners may discover bats residing in their home. Attics are the most common area of a house in which bats are most likely to roost and gather in a colony to raise their young. The heat of an attic keeps the pups warm and allows them to grow and develop more rapidly. After a few very hot summer days, an attic may become too hot for the bats, forcing them out and sometimes into the living quarters as they search for cooler places to roost. In late summer, inexperienced young bats may fall down a chimney, fly down an attic stairway, fly through an open window, or land on the ground.
During warmer months, most bats found in buildings (like homes) are either Little Brown Bats or Big Brown Bats.
The presence of any wild animal, including bats, in a home is an obvious indication that the house is not weather-tight. In some cases, with small numbers of bats, people don't mind their presence and concentrate on blocking holes and cracks leading into the human living quarters. Where there is a large colony of bats in house walls, homeowners may consider removing and relocating the bats. Massachusetts requires non-lethal approaches through the use of one-way doors. It may also be helpful to put up a bat house nearby to provide an alternate site for the bats. Since bats are protected in Massachusetts, attempts to evict a colony of bats can only be made during the early spring (during the month of May), or late summer (from August 1st to mid-October). Waiting to evict the colony allows time for any young bats to mature and leave the house on their own. For additional information, please refer to the Massachusetts Homeowner's Guide to Bats.
Homeowners who wish to hire someone to safely evict a bat colony can contact a licensed Problem Animal Control agent. PAC agents may legally handle a variety of species, including certain species of bats.
Fortunately, a single bat can usually be dealt with quite easily. It will NOT attack you or become tangled in your hair, although it may flutter by close to you. The best action is to open a window or door in the room containing the bat, close off the rest of the house, and block the space under the door with towels. A flying bat will usually circle the room several times until it locates the open window and flies out. If it is nighttime, it is usually only a matter of a few minutes before the bat leaves the house. If it is daytime, the bat should leave within an hour after dark, as long as the weather outside is not too cold.
If a bat has landed, it can be assisted out of a house in several ways. For a bat on a curtain or wall, place a jar, coffee can, or small box over the bat, carefully working the bat into the container, and then slip the lid on or cover the box quickly. A bat on the floor can be covered with a towel, picked up within the towel, and then released outdoors. Another method is to put on thick work gloves and simply pick up the bat and release it outdoors. Do not use thin gloves and never pick up a bat with bare hands. No species of bat that occurs in Massachusetts can bite through a thick towel or leather gloves. Whatever method is used, the bat will likely open its mouth and squeak loudly when handled; don't worry.
If a bat seems injured, contact a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator. If you find a baby bat, wear thick work gloves to gently pick the baby up and place it as close as possible to the potential colony location (i.e. bat house, attic, eaves, barn, shed, etc.), or off the ground and in a tree. If it is a baby, the mother bat will return for her pup.
If anyone has had direct contact with a bat (i.e. bite or scratch), or if a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person, the bat should be safely captured and not released. Contact local health officials for assistance in evaluating potential rabies risk and submitting the bat to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) for rabies testing. Testing is done at the DPH office in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts (617-983-6800 or 617-983-6550), and submission is usually coordinated by the person's municipality.
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