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Group of Lesser Dog-faced Fruit Bat, Cyneropterus brachyotis. Also called Short-nosed or Common Fruit Bat. Animals hanging in the roof. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore.

How To Get Rid of Bats

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Author Icon Written by Brenda Woods Updated 04/15/2024

While bats can feast on other pests, they aren’t necessarily welcome in your attic or other indoor locations. In the long term, a colony of bats can seriously damage your home and your health.

If bats are lurking around your home, it’s crucial to act quickly. However, since exterminating bats or using pesticides on them is illegal in the United States, handling a bat infestation can be tricky. We’ve researched the best professional pest control options and DIY methods to give you the top tips on how to get rid of bats.


Why Should You Remove Bats?

Pipistrelle bat flying inside building

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bats consume about 1,200 mosquito-sized insects an hour. In fact, some species of bats disperse seeds, pollinate plants, and feed on beetles and other insect populations that destroy crops.

While these benevolent critters can do good for the environment, they pose home and health risks when they venture into your home. Indoors, the following bat problems may develop:

  • Risk of rabies: Coming into contact with a bat is highly dangerous and can expose homeowners to rabies, a painful and life-threatening disease. Rabies can result from bites, scratches, and even holding bats.
  • Undesirable allergies: Living in a home with bats can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, including asthma and congestion.
  • Structural damage to your home: Bat droppings, known as guano, can cause significant structural damage to your house by eating away at wood and other building materials around your home.
  • Risk of histoplasmosis: This infection comes from inhaling a fungus found in the droppings of bats and unwanted birds. Symptoms include fever, cough, and fatigue and can last for weeks or even months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends professionals clean up large amounts of bat feces.
  • Unpleasant odor: Over time, the smell of guano can become quite unpleasant, making your home difficult to inhabit.

Bats should not be allowed to linger in the inhabited parts of your property. Over time, even a few little brown bats can grow to a population of a few hundred, leaving behind an accumulation of guano.

To deal with bats, you have two choices: professional bat control or a DIY approach. Based on the health hazards and the size of your bat infestation, the CDC recommends professional wildlife removal, as do we. Regardless of which path you take to remove your bats, here are the best steps to get rid of them.


Professional Bat Exclusion

With bat exclusion, timing is everything. Female bats can give birth, one pup a season, at any time from May through August. To prevent trapping young bats, the exclusion must be conducted either in the spring, before the pups are born, or after the young bats are capable of flying in the early fall before leaving for hibernation.

No matter how many bats are roosting in your home, they will have a few designated entry points. Once a technician find their primary egress, they will install one-way doors to prevent re-entry. The devices will remain in place for a few days—longer if the weather is inclement and the bats stay inside—before being removed. Then the technician will seal the entry points.

Your pest control crew will need protection from dust, potential disease, and insulation fibers in your attic or eaves. To clean up after significant infestations, professionals often wear booties, goggles, gloves, and HEPA face masks.

If your insulation has been compromised, the pros will use a high-power vacuum to quickly and thoroughly dispose of loose-fill insulation. All traces of the bats will need to be cleaned out thoroughly from any former habitats.

Your pest control experts will comb every inch of the house’s exterior for gaps and holes, paying particular attention to the roof’s ridgeline and areas that may have opened up between clapboards or shingles. They may also examine the outside of the home for small brown streaks and tiny black pellets, evidence of bat urine and guano.

Bats can squeeze through an opening as small as 1 inch by 3/8 inch, so every possible entry point must be caulked except for the bats’ favored exits with one-way doors. Silicone caulk is preferred as a sealant for its flexibility and clear look upon drying. Sealing up every possible entrance is imperative for keeping bats away, as bats prefer to return to the same roosts year after year.

As a measure to ensure no bats enter your home again, many companies use hardware cloth along with caulk. Though bats do not gnaw through wood, squirrels and other rodents do. Using wire cloth is a preventive measure to ensure the longevity of the bat-proofing. If your attic has a vent, hardware cloth may be used to seal that potential entry point as well.

With the old insulation completely removed, pest control specialists commonly use a stain cleaner and odor remover in areas where bat guano was concentrated. Special enzymes are able to break down the source of the odor.

Neutralizing the odor is not only desirable, it’s essential because scent draws bats back to the roost. Bats have excellent homing instincts and can live up to 30 years. Thanks to their superior sense of smell, every measure must be taken to prevent them from returning to a roost they may have occupied for years.

After your bat problems have ended, you’ll need to fix any areas that were damaged by the bats or the removal process. Restoring any damaged insulation or wood in the attic is a good place to start, along with repairing or cleaning any exterior damage around their entry points.


Steps to follow

DIY Bat Removal

Since bats pose a significant risk to your health and house, we recommend a professional in most situations to avoid disease and damage. However, some homeowners would rather give DIY bat control a try to save on pest control costs.

Here’s how to get rid of bats around the house:

Unlike professionals, you likely aren’t familiar with the legality of bat removal in your area. Consult your local and state laws to determine whether bats are a protected species and what removal tactics are legal in your area. Local wildlife control may also be able to advise you on if and how you should remove bats from your home alone. For nationwide legal guidance on bat exclusion and other pest-related resources, we recommend consulting the website managed by nonprofit organization Wildlife Management Pros.

The most common species of bats to colonize homes include little brown bats, big brown bats, and pallid bats. Each bat will have a different maternity season, which will dictate the exclusion period you will need to follow.

Chimneys, vents, loose shingles, your roof’s ridge cap, and your home’s eaves are all potential entry points for bats. If there’s no obvious entrance, damaged areas on your home’s exterior, such as warped boards and loose siding, may also be culprits. Once you have determined where the bats are entering, use a one-way tube on the entry point so they can leave, but not re-enter. Finally, seal up any other possible entrances with caulk.

It’s time to don protective gear including rubber work gloves, sleeves, booties, and an N95 mask or reusable respirator.

Mist soiled areas with a solution of water and bleach before scrubbing with detergent or non-ammonia enzymatic cleaner, like Biokleen’s Bac-Out Solution. Rinse, then use a bleach solution to clean again. Any porous materials like rugs, clothes, or fabrics contaminated with guano should be disposed of and removed from the home.

Again, in the case of bats, professional pest control is worth the money. Between state-specific legislation, health hazards, and the likelihood of bats returning, this is typically a job for the professionals. It’s not worth risking your safety or a fine to save a few bucks.


Invest In and Install a Bat House

Whether you take the professional or do-it-yourself bat removal approach, bats will continue to return to a roost, especially one that is long-established. The best way to encourage a mutually beneficial ecosystem long-term is by investing in and properly installing one or more bat houses close to the previously infested structure. This provides an alternative nest so you can continue to reap the benefits of having bats nearby.

Thankfully, providing bats with a new place to roost can prevent them from entering your home again. Echolocation can direct bats right to their favorite points of entry, so you’ll want to position a bat house as close to the old “bat door” as possible as a powerful deterrent. Once established, a healthy collective of bats can prove a great asset to your property by eating mosquitos and other flying pests (bats’ favorite food sources) and acting as pollinators.

If you’re interesting in building your own bat house, the National Wildlife Federation offers instructions for constructing and placing a structure that will prove hospitable to bats.

If you’d prefer to purchase a bat house, you’ll need to do a bit of research to find a high-quality one. According to Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation Trust (MTBC), installing a high-quality bat house in the proper location helps mitigate future home infestations by 80%.

Merlin Tuttle is a tenured professor at the University of Texas and the foremost bat expert in the United States. He has written extensively on all species of bats, and in 2022 published The Bat House Guide, a manual that provides guidance for wildlife removal pros, homeowners, commercial property managers, and construction managers.

As a proponent of bat conservation and advocate for the comfortable coexistence of humans and bats, Tuttle cautions against buying uncertified, low-quality bat houses, which are not only significantly less effective, but threaten the lives of already desperate bat populations:

“It is true that numerous bat houses are badly built and sold with unreasonable claims and little, if any, instruction on bat needs. Vendors of such houses defraud customers and threaten the credibility of bat conservation. Both vendors and customers can benefit from education and certification.”

This Old House Tip
When shopping for a bat house, we recommend looking for the “MTBC” certification endorsement, which indicates that the bat box has met Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation’s rigorous safety and success-rate standards. Check out MTBC’s Selecting a Quality Bat House page for more detailed information, bat house and mounting pole recommendations, as well as a list of MTBC-approved bat house vendors.

Our Conclusion

A bat infestation is one of the more difficult pest problems to tackle, with risks and legalities to consider before you begin. You’ll want to know what type of bats are in your home and time your exclusion carefully to avoid harming these creatures. If you do choose to DIY, be sure to clean thoroughly, seal entrances vigilantly, and wear protective masks, gloves, and clothing.

In most cases, we recommend professional bat exclusion to reduce the risk of harm to you or your home, keeping both your loved ones and your bat neighbors safe. We recommend Terminix for its competitive pricing, live chat features, and widespread availability. We also consider Orkin a top provider thanks to its long history in the industry and money-back guarantee. Request free quotes from both companies to find the best provider and price for your home.


Frequently Asked Questions About Bat Removal

What are bats attracted to?

Bats are attracted to a habitat that has food, water, consistent temperatures, and shelter from predators. They may also be drawn to outdoor areas and gardens with a bat house, night-blooming plants, a stream, and fragrant flowers.

What can you do to keep bats away?

To keep bats away from your property, you may want to try:

  • Shining a bright light at their former entry point for a week
  • Hanging CDs or other reflective objects
  • Scenting the area with smells they dislike, such as mothballs, cinnamon, eucalyptus, or peppermint
  • Ensuring all potential entry points have been safely sealed

Are bats hard to get rid of?

Unfortunately, bats can be extremely hard to get rid of. A colony of bats in your home may reproduce, return year after year, destroy your insulation, and cover your attic in their droppings. If you notice bats around the house, professional pest control is the best response.

How much does bat removal cost?

The cost of bat removal can vary depending on the severity of the infestation, the location of the bats, and the method of removal. On average, professional bat removal services can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,500, with the average cost falling between $225 and $725. Get a quote from a professional bat removal service for a more accurate estimate of the cost for your specific situation.

How do I prevent bats from re-entering my home after they have been removed?

To prevent bats from re-entering your home, take most or all of the following steps:

  1. Install bat cones: The WCS Batcone is a one-way device that allow bats to leave the building but prevents them from re-entering. Install these cones over the bats’ entry and exit points.
  2. Seal all entry points: Once you’re certain that all bats are evacuated, ensure that all the entry points, such as cracks, holes, or gaps in walls, roof, vents, and chimneys, are sealed with caulk or foam to prevent re-entry.
  3. Put down non-toxic repellant: Placing animal- and human-safe odor repellents around the freshly remediated part of your home can help ward of future visitors. We recommend Bonide Bat Magic Peppermint Packs.
  4. Install bat boxes: Provide an alternative roosting location for the bats. 
  5. Install screens: Install screens over vents and chimneys to prevent bats from re-entering.
  6. Keep your home clean: Clean your home regularly, and exterminate any potential sources of food for bats, such as gnats and other insects.

Our Rating Methodology

We back up our pest control recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. We review pest control plans, navigate the provider website, speak with customer service representatives by phone and online chat (if available), request quotes, and analyze customer reviews for each provider. We then score the provider against our review standards for plans and services, reputation and customer responses, customer service offerings, workmanship guarantees, financing, and availability to arrive at a final score on a 5-point rating scale.

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