By Madeline Gardner
As summer and all its fun kicks into high gear, bat infestations should be the least of the worries for the season. However, while such an issue may not be at the top of the agenda, wildlife experts and homeowners with experience in this department warn that it is better to be aware and take preventative measures now. With continued land development, there is a higher chance of bats finding their way into homes and businesses as opposed to their natural habitats.
“As human development progresses, they have less and less natural habitat. In Florida, their natural habitat is large, old-growth trees. They’ll get into cavities in trees, underneath the bark,” said Marc Salveson, owner of Gotcha Wildlife Removal LLC. “When they have less of that available, they’ll start looking elsewhere.”
Signs of an infestation range from actual sightings of bats around homes or businesses to the smell of ammonia or presence of guano. The species is drawn to smaller openings around roofs, usually using unsealed soffits as entry points in attics and other open spaces.
“Bats only need a dime-sized space to get into something. The soffits need to be sealed. And not just specific entry points where they could get in, they need to be sealed all around your home,” said Jules Castellanos-Ford, owner of a rental in the FishHawk Garden District.
Castellanos-Ford had experienced an infestation in 2017 and believed the issue to have been solved until her tenants reported the news of a returned bat presence this past June, a result of the home not being entirely sealed off. As they are protected during their mating season until August 15, Castellanos-Ford had to acquire a permit from the Florida Wildlife Commission first before she could call Salveson.
The removal process usually takes between five and seven days following an inspection. After sealing all around the building, a one-way door system is installed to allow bats an exit before the final entry point is sealed off. However, just scheduling a general inspection is also recommended to lower the chances of having to deal with this procedure.
While they can be pests, Salveson stresses the importance of still protecting bats.
“They are our number one natural defense. We definitely want to save the bats. Choose a company that loves them as much as we do and take a humane approach,” said Salveson. “We can live in harmony with them.”
For more information or to schedule an inspection, please visit www.gotchawildliferemoval.com or call 205-5877.