Bats In The Belfry?

  • September 6, 2011 2:20 am
  • Bats
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Bats and Property Damage

There is little in nature more invigorating than watching bats flutter about at dusk, occasionally “dive-bombing” the insects that annoy us so much. Bats are the best insect control there is, eating up to 600 mosquitoes each in an hour. Yet very few of us are willing to let bats make their homes in our homes, apartments, or other buildings. And why is this?

Unlike mice, bats do not chew holes in buildings. They really don’t have to! It takes a space less than an inch wide for a bat to easily come in or out of a building. So holes to the roof or walls are not damage caused by bats. Rather, there are more insidious risks of bats inhabiting our spaces.

The types of damage bats can do to a building are basically three:

  • Spread of  Disease.
    Bats, like other animals, can carry rabies. And although bats rarely bite  humans, the risk of bat bites frightens us away from areas inhabited by  bats. Along with the risk of rabies, bat dung carries the spores for   Histoplasmosis, a disease mainly affecting the lungs of people, especially those with immunity disorders, the elderly, and the very young.
  • Introduction of  Bat Mites.
    Bat mites, often mistaken for bed bugs, will often make humans their new  hosts. Insect exterminators, sometimes mistaking these for bed bugs, will   treat a building, only to be called back time and again because the bugs  were killed, but with the presence of bats, new ones took their place and   the infestation began anew.
  • Structural  Damage.    As we noted above, bats do not chew on buildings. However, their dung and  urine will accumulate over time, resulting in waste dripping through   ceilings, ruining insulation, and soaking through sheet rock or particle  board, eventually causing the interior of the structure to collapse.

The three hazards add up to one thing: property devaluation. Tenants will quickly move out of a building just knowing there are bugs, bats, or the odor of the bat urine and guano. Buyers will be unlikely to take a second look at a building stained with bat excreta, knowing that it is expensive and time-consuming to remove the bats and their droppings, as well as repair the damage done.

The damage caused by bats can be horrendous. But to allow the bats to continue to devalue the property is probably the worst decision an owner can make. He should take action as soon as bats are suspected, thus alleviating the problem and keeping the cost of remediation minimal.

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