Chances are if you have lived in the area for long, you know someone who has had to deal with a bat infestation and subsequent bat eviction in a home. Having lived in FishHawk for 19 years, I knew bat infestations were not uncommon in the community. Nonetheless, I was still shocked to discover I had some uninvited guests in my attic.
What you may not know is that the nesting, or maternity, season for bats in Florida runs from April 15 through August 15. During this time, it is a felony to remove them, unless a special permit is received for extenuating circumstances. Additionally, they are a protected species year-round, meaning it is illegal to harm or kill them at any time. Bats are an important part of our world’s ecosystem. All 13 species natural to Florida eat insects, which aids in limiting disease in humans and damage to agricultural crops.
We discovered our resident bats after hearing what sounded like scratching noises in the attic. Listening closely to the outside soffits, we heard squeaks and realized it was likely bats. What else to do but watch and wait? About 15 minutes after sunset, the bats began to leave for their nightly adventures. The size of the soffit opening they flew from was almost invisible and the number of bats that came out was both amazing — and, frankly, alarming. While I appreciated their importance to our environment and had nothing personal against my new tenants, I also knew I needed to call a professional for safe removal.
So, why are they nesting in so many attic spaces in the area?
“As development progresses, they have less and less natural habitat. In Florida, their natural habitat is large, old-growth trees. When they have less of that available, they’ll start looking elsewhere. They can take advantage of what are essentially home defects, and, while not ideal, this also keeps them away from prey,” said Marc Salveson, owner of Gotcha Wildlife Removal LLC. It only takes one sliver of an opening in a soffit and some bat pheromones for bats to get the word out that there’s a new lodge in the area.
Signs of a resident colony include the presence of guano (droppings), an ammonia smell in a room or scratching noises or squeaking sounds in the attic or soffits — or you can do what we did and watch and wait after sunset.
Bat houses are a safe, environmentally friendly option to assist in preventing an attic colony, but they are unfortunately not allowed in most HOA communities. They should be installed professionally, as there are height and direction-facing recommendations and typically work best if installed right after hibernation season.
I scheduled my eviction with Gotcha Wildlife Removal and anxiously awaited the post-August 15 date, watching them take flight from the soffit each night, growing in numbers.
After the initial inspection, the process involved sealing multiple openings that were barely visible in both the soffits and where the stucco meets the soffit. The final step was to install a trap door.
“The check valve is a screen that is designed to be a one-way eviction, as it borders off the entry and funnels them down to an exit point with no ability to reenter,” said Christian Badalament of Gotcha Wildlife Removal.
And while I hoped they remain safe as they find a new home, I also happily toasted their exit.
If you think you may have your own bat colony (or any other uninvited critters), you can contact Gotcha Wildlife Removal at 813-205-5877 or visit www.gotchawildliferemoval.com.