Winter Bat Problems

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YouTube video

Winter Bat Problems!

Winter Bat Problems Explained.
Ah winter bat problems. So confusing. Every year hundreds of people across Ontario call me because they find a bat inside their home in winter. Most are confused because they assume that bats hibernate in caves or go south.
However Living quietly year round in millions of Ontario houses, is a species of bats, called big browns. They enter and exit buildings high up and only need a tiny gap to squeeze into your roof. Most colonies only have a handful of members and because they are super quiet and nocturnal its easy to miss them.

Most winter bat problems occur because big brown bats live in the walls of houses and not attics which are too hot in summer and too cold in winter. After entering the roof they use gaps beside plumbing pipes and chimneys to get into the walls and in some houses can travel all the way down the wall to unfinished space like a basement or furnace rooms, once inside they will move from room to room by crawling under doors.

Most bats actually show up inside during summer when they are most active and the populations are at their peak. However as winter approaches they will seek out a cool spot to hibernate in a basement or exterior wall . Most of the winter bat problem calls I receive come after a big change in temperature after which many bats find that their winter hibernation spot it now to hot or to cold and have to move. This is when most winter bat problems occur.
Winter bat appearances also occur after they wake up to clean themselves and go to the bathroom which they have to do a few times each winter.

Other winter bat problems occur because they come inside after waking up to mate!

Also sadly many winter bat problems are caused by first year bats that will not survive.(it is estimated that 50% of all first year big brown bats will not survive their first winter)

Now if you see a bat inside in winter it may be lost but don’t be confused if you can’t find it later. Many of these winter bats will go back up into the walls and go back into hibernation . If you manage to get it outside it may die from exposure or fly back up to its entry/exit point and return to its hibernation spot somewhere in the walls of your home.

Ultimately The only permanent way to fix a winter bat problem is to have a specialist bat-proof the exterior and humanely exclude them. Ironically this work cannot be done during winter.

We cover that subject in videos

I hope you enjoyed this article on the basics of winter bat problems.

If you would like to learn more about bat problems check out our website and other videos

If you just want us to fix your winter bat problem go to our call or email us and that information can be found on our website

Winter bat problem guide.

How to deal with bats in your living space during winter.

Step by step guide for winter bat problems.

In winter most hibernating bats come inside after waking up to clean themselves, mate or move to a better hibernation spot. If left alone most will go back inside the walls and into hibernation.

And Sadly 50% of the big brown bats born each spring will not survive their first winter. Many of the bats will wake up from hibernation and come inside houses are first year bats that will not survive.

Many homeowners would like a local wildlife rehabilitation outfits to take the bat off their hands but there are not enough in Ontario to meet the need.

Provided you are certain that there has been no contact with the bat you basically have few options when dealing with winter bat problems in your home. There are no perfect answers here only options.

1. You can catch the bat and put it outside but, it may freeze to death.

If it does not freeze, it may fly back to its entry/exit point, re-enter your building, go back into hibernation and possibly show up again inside at some point in the future. (Btw since bats live in colonies there are others hibernating in the walls)

2. You can leave it alone. Unless it is lost, many winter bats will soon return to the walls and go back into hibernation.

Now Sadly 50% of the big brown bats born each spring will not survive their first winter and many winter bat problems are caused by first year bats that are not going to survive.

I generally recommend to my winter bat problem clients that they leave the bat alone and hope it returns to its hibernation spot. Then I recommend they watch my video “What to do in the meantime” which explains how to limit the ability of bats to get out of the walls and help prevent them showing up in their living space and bedrooms. Ironically the best time to properly deal with a winter bat problem is spring, when the bats become active again and they can be humanely excluded and the house bat-proofed.

If it does not go back to its hibernation spot and they cannot find a local wildlife rehabilitation group (good luck), I recommend to my winter bat problem clients that they catch the bat, let it go outside and let nature take its course.

How to deal with winter bats that don’t return to their hibernation spot.

Step 1: Isolate the bat. I always recommend that my winter bat problem customers close doors to other parts of the house. Put a towel under any doors to prevent the bat from crawling under it and place heavy book over any heat register as many of my winter bat problem customers lose track of the bat when they dive down the heat register and end up dead in the duct work.

Step 2: Open a door or window as close to the bat as possible. The bat maybe lost and be looking for and escape get from your home so it can find its way back to its hibernation spot. I always tell my winter bat problem customers the the bat wants to get away from all the scary humans. It will generally (could take up to an hour or longer sometimes) sense the fresh air movement and fly outside.

Step 3: Turn off anything that makes noise. I also tell my winter bat problem clients that loud noises often confuse bats’ echolocation systems. Turning off anything that makes noise will go a long way in helping the bat to find its way out.

Step 4: Keep an eye on the bat. Many of our winter bat control customer spend hours searching in the house/room for the bat when it goes into hiding. When it does fly out, it will be sudden – and quiet. It may circle the room from time to time before it discovers the open window.

Step 5: Removing the bat. If the bat does not seem to be exiting the room on its own or you are feeling impatient, you can attempt to capture the bat and release it outside. When we are at work on a winter bat problem job, we always wear gloves and long pants when attempting to capture the bat. Here are a few methods.

Throw a towel over the bat. Once the bat is under the towel, scoop it up, making sure to wrap the bat inside. Be sure not to crush it!

Whenever we advise our winter bat problem clients, we recommending placing an empty laundry basket or wastepaper basket over the bat. Then take a newspaper, magazine or other similar object and slide it between the wall/floor and the bat. Make sure not to pinch the bat.

Use a small-meshed net to capture the bat. (A large-meshed net may capture the bat as well but it may injure it as the bat will likely become entangled in the net and require you to use a more hands-on approach.

Attention! to all my winter bat problem clients. Please Do Not: Swing at the bat with a tennis racket or a baseball bat.

Step 6: I warn all my winter bat problem clients that you will hear a clicking noise which means that the bat is scared and may actually attempt to bite. Once you have the bat inside the towel or a container, bring it outside, some distance from the house. Make sure that any doors or windows are now closed. Remove the towel or newspaper and turn the container on its side. The bat should be able to get out and fly away. I remind all my winter bat problem customers that it is not easy for the bat to take off from the ground, so if possible, push the container or towel as close to a tree as possible.

Finally, I ask all my winter bat problem clients, please do not to harm or kill the bat. The bat probably just got lost. It will not go after you. However as I tell all my winter bat problem customers. We will need to bat-proof your home and exclude any other bats or this will happen again.