Hello everybody, this is Jeff Norris, the Wildlife Trapper. On today’s podcast episode, I would like to speak about bats. Yup, flying rats, basically. Rats with wings. However you want to say it, it’s not really the truth, but is common thought amongst people on bats. Bats are very important to our environment. They keep down a lot of mosquitoes, different insects, so they are very important, but there becomes a time with any wildlife that their importance in the ecosystem is not outweighed by their human conflict they’re having by entering structures and such. Bats are one of the big ones. The more you let it go, the worse your problem gets. Never will get better, they’re not going to leave.
I want to go over a few things about myths with bats and so forth. First off, bats run off echolocation kind of like sonar, kind of like radar, but a little different. Kind of like they pick out a frequency and it comes back in 3D to them. With that, they really honed that skill and they can find the smallest of holes. Bats, people say, “oh, the bats are swooping me”, and there’s that and the other. Well, we put off carbon dioxide, and CO2 is an attractant to different things including mosquitoes. A lot of times, the reason why bats are swooping towards you is for a food source, not for you. You are exhaling carbon dioxide, the mosquitoes are drawn to it, thus for you are the mosquito magnet, and the bat’s actually trying to help you by killing mosquitoes. In any amount, still not a comfortable situation for most people even knowing that.
Other dangers of they have is one, super high rabies carriers. If you’re in a house, and this is a protocol that we’ve gotten from the Health Department. If it’s an older person or a child, and I’ll be honest even if it was me, and I have fallen asleep, let’s say I fall asleep and the next morning there’s a bat in my bedroom. That bat’s going to get caught and tested for a rabies virus because their bites can be so small and so minute that you don’t even notice them. That’s why we always recommend with children and elderly, that people with disabilities, that happens that that bat gets tested.
Rabies ain’t no joke and it’s better to be safe than sorry. So you have a bat in your house and you have fallen asleep and you don’t know if you’ve been bitten or not, just get tested. Call us, we can come out, capture the bat, we can take it to the Health Department for you and get the process started. We’re very familiar with it.
If you let the bat escape, then things are a little different. We don’t have a bat to test. Therefore, you’re going to be treated like an exposure and you’re going to have to go through a series of rabies shots. No, they’re not in the stomach no more, but nevertheless, I have not known any one person that’s taken them, either post or pre, that has not gotten sick from them. They make you sick. They’re like having the flu. No fun, not something I would want to do if I didn’t have to, so don’t let the bat out, don’t let anybody smash the bat, kill the bat. Call us, we’ll come out. We do charge a fee, it’s a business, but we’ll come out, we’ll capture the bat, we’ll get it over to the Health Department and get tested for ya. That’s number one.
Number two is all their feces and guano carry, which feces is guano, let’s clear that out of the way. I say guano, I’m referring to bat feces or bat poop or whatever you want to call it, that’s what guano is. Guano is a combination of urine and fecal matter coming out of the same hole because they have what they call a common anus, and it all comes out the same hole and mixes together. So that’s why it’s so sticky and sticks to buildings and stuff, because it’s wet when it hits. The guano, there’s other problems with that. High quantities of it can put people into … it’s a respiratory irritant all by itself. It’s not a pleasant smell. I’ve been in houses where my eyes have burned from it. Proper care should be taken. Universal precautions, a mask, rubber gloves and stuff when cleaning it up. Do not sweep it dry. If it’s dry, wet it down, or even wet it down with a capful of bleach to a gallon of water mixture, which will kill the nasties living in it and you won’t have to deal with it.
What’s the big thing with the guano? Histoplasmosis, number one thing, histo. Funny thing is, two forms of histo, not just one. There’s a respiratory histo, which everybody seems to talk about, and there’s an ocular histo, or histoplasmosis of the eyes, which I’m fortunate enough to have a friend who is a eye doctor and we were having this discussion one time, and I realized how common it was. It’s very common. He says it’s usually from people up North that have it who’ve lived in farm houses and stuff, but he says he sees three or four cases a year just here in the Bradenton area.
That kind of astounds me, I was kind of like wow, I didn’t realize ocular histo was so common. It’s probably more common than the respiratory histo because no matter what, everybody tries to scare you and stuff with histoplasmosis, the fact is, there is no cases I know of in the state of Florida that have been tracked down to histoplasmosis from bats living in a building. Caves? Yes, but not buildings. So the guys running round out there saying ‘oh [inaudible 00:08:06] give me histoplasmosis and stuff. It’s a chance, but it’s very minute. In hundreds and hundreds of years, we have not had any histo transmitted from buildings in Florida, so we can get that off the plate.
Ocular on the other hand does transmit and you need to be careful. You need to use personal protective equipment and constitute universal precautions when dealing with this. Eyewear, mask, gloves, bleach and water. That pretty much stabilizes it, makes it pretty safe to remove. Don’t use the blower. So many times I’ve seen guys that have bats on docks or whatever and they just one of their guys going out there every morning blowing that crap, for less of better terms, off the docks. Well you’re blowing disease everywhere possibly, and it’s just not good, it’s not safe. Wet it down, put it in a pile, show it up, double-bag it, throw it in the dumpster, but don’t blow it, you know use an air blower on it. Man, I just back pack blower or anything, I’ve seen it time and time again. Same way bird droppings, they’re just out there scrubbing it, no universal precautions. Histo’s in birds too, probably more so than bats. You’ve got to be careful. You’ve got to use some brains when cleaning up animal feces and stuff.
Talk about respiratory histo, which produces, from my understanding, like a fungus in your respiratory system. Ocular, I’ve not studied the ocular much, I’m not a doctor, and I guess I have all the information I really need personally on it. Be careful when you’re around it and you won’t get it. Those are my terms. As far as knowing, obviously it affects your eyesight, and maybe I’ll get lucky enough I could have this doctor come on one podcast with me and explain it, that would be kind of cool. That actually would be really cool, so I have to work on that.
Bats and buildings. The urine builds up, the guano, which is the urine and feces build up quickly in buildings. There will be piles of it. It will stain, it will get down into the wood, it will soak in. A lot of the damage that bats do isn’t so much from them, it’s the cleanup. It’s the guano all over the side of a building, it’s their grease marks getting in and out, it’s the guano on the inside, just all those things. Here’s the biggest mistake people make. This is just, I’m going to say it, if you do this, you are an idiot. An absolute idiot, and I will tell you a story why. If you have bats in your house, don’t believe everything you read on the internet or what your friends tell you because your friends probably are not professionals. You cannot go up at night and just fill in the holes, because not all of the bats are out. You might get lucky, but you probably won’t, and then you’ll have dead bats in your house or bats trying to find other exits and end up in your living area and we talked about rabies shots already, right? So don’t do it. It’s not the thing to do. It’s the most uneducated thing you can do with bats. Don’t do it.
Handymen? Handymen, let me tell you something. You’re not licensed to do it, stay away from it. Stop it. You guys don’t know what you’re doing nine out of ten times and we end up coming back and cleaning up your mess and all you’ve done is give the homeowner more grief and I’ll be honest, if I have to come behind a handyman, there’s at least a 25% charge for cleaning up his mess. So in the long run, it’s much more expensive for your customer. Refer them to a professional, keep doing what you’re doing, get the paint job afterward. Get the pressure washing job afterwards. Plenty of work out there, but do not play bat evictor. You will probably not do a very good job and you’re opening yourself up for even criminal penalties because you don’t have a pest control license.
Bats, it’s an easy process. It’s not really rocket science. You’ve just got to get rid of them. Now their season, and this is the reason I’m doing this podcast, their season is closed from April 15th to August 15th. This allows the maternal colonies to have their babies. During such time, the babies are flightless and cannot leave the roost and will die if you exclude the parents. So you put up a bat valve, exclude the parents for a few days, and sealed up, all the babies are inside, they’re going to starve to death, but you know better yet what they’re going to do? They’re going to stink. They’re going to stink horribly. Then you’ll call me out to get all the dead animals out of your walls and stuff, which brings me to my story.
There is a place down in Charlotte County, I won’t mention any names, that had us come out for a quote on getting the bats out of a condominium owned by ex-preachers, or retired preachers, I shouldn’t say ex. Retired clergy. So they have us come out and the whole board’s there and they ask me a bunch of questions and stuff and I probably, trying to explain the process to them, probably gave them more info than I needed to. So by the time I got done, they thought they were experts, and they did an exclusion. Well, they didn’t do it right, and they ended up with bats dead in walls up to three foot deep. It ended up being a several hundred thousand dollar claim if anyone tried to turn into their insurance company. The homeowners said to them said, “I don’t know why they tried to do it, we had a company come out and give a bid”, and I talked to that homeowner and they got one of my cards, and they said, “Yeah, it was this company.”
So the insurance guy calls me and says, “Hey, did you give a bid to this company, or to this project?” And I said yes. He goes, “Can I get a copy of that?” “Yup, sure can.” Now it wasn’t a cheap bid, I think it was $25,000, pretty good size building, a lot of work, lifts, definitely not something that was going to be done in one or two days. About a week project, with several guys on the job. So this guy calls and wants to know about it and I tell him and he tells me he’s an insurance adjuster, and I said oh, okay, you running it through insurance? He goes, “Well we’re trying.” I’m like why? He goes, “You didn’t hear?” I said no.
So he explains what happened, and they basically killed all these bats in the walls, and then they had to pull all the drywall, all the studs, had to put people up in the hotels, it was a mess. It was all done because people half listen and think they know more than everybody and attempt things that they shouldn’t attempt doing. I get homeowners need to do their own little projects around house, I totally get it, but we’re not talking about a raccoon getting a trashcan here. We’re talking about messing with other people’s lives, and their health and trying to pull off a magic act without going to magic school.
That’s what they did, and it was a mess, and they ended up getting their claim denied and the bad thing was, these homeowners who’ve already been out and displaced and everything else are now getting assessed money to pay for the cleanup and renovations of their properties that the assessment would have been a tenth hiring me had it been done right, and the bats would still be alive and these people wouldn’t have to be living in hotels, and these people would have had a normal life from day to day. Except for I might have taken a parking spot for a couple of days with my lift. Other than that, that would be probably the biggest inconvenience they would have had.
If you get what I’m saying is if you don’t know about it, don’t mess with it, don’t think you can educate yourself enough on the internet for it, because I’ll tell you what, if that was the case, I wouldn’t have a job. If those sprinkle things to get rid of raccoons worked or if the ultrasonic devices worked, I would not have a job. I would not be here for 20 years doing this, and I’d be out of business. It’s funny when we see all these little magical things that come on TV like saw one the other day to get rid of raccoons or something. I laugh, and I took a picture of it and posted it on one of the industry forms and said, ‘oh guys, go ahead and close the shops, we’re done. The raccoon ranger or whatever is there now and everybody’s going to buy this.’ Whatever.
Mothballs. Mothballs, another one man. God. Don’t do mothballs. Mothballs will work, but they have to be in high concentrations, and if they’re in that high a concentration, then you’re not going to be able to live there. Taking in fact, I had a lady who had something in her attic up in Sun City. When I walked up to the house I could smell the mothballs, when she opened the door, it floored me. This lady’s sucking for an ounce of air. She’s literally like (gasping) hello. I’m like oh my God. We get her out of the house, find out that okay, who put the mothballs in? Yup, the handyman. Something crazy, like six or seven boxes of mothballs in her attic.
The humidity activates them, they start smelling, wadabam, wadaboom, we all know what happened. Well missy, the lady there ended up in the hospital, had to call her children. Ended up having to have all the insulation replaced in the house and aired out and oh, three machines put in and I don’t think it was a whole lot, about a 12 or 14 thousand dollar expense by the time it was done, they had wrapped up into it and their mother in the hospital.
Why? Because again, got a handyman that doesn’t know what he’s doing trying to perform pest control services without a license and guess what. Hello? That’s why we’re licensed. That’s why we have to have continuing education, that’s why we have to show proficiency. So we don’t do hair brained stupid stuff like this. There you go. I hate to be real, but mothballs are going to keep moths out of your closet. That’s what they’re designed to do, and if you read the label on them, that’s what it says. It doesn’t say it’s going to keep raccoons from pissing in your flowerbed, it doesn’t say it’s going to keep them out of your trashcan, it doesn’t say it’s going to make rats go away.
I got a house right now that we’re trapping rats six inches away from his mothballs that he has left there. I have pictures. It’s hilarious. It’s absolutely hilarious, I have a rat trap right next to the paper plate with the mothballs, and I’m catching rats. Come on. I wish they’d take mothballs off the market. Let the moths live. Moths lives matter. And yeah, that’s my rant for that.
April 15th to August 15th’s the baby season, again, so we’re in the last week of July and we’re gearing up for our bat season to start, and we’ve got several people already with a … it’s on the books to start rip out jobs on August 15th, and we’d like to have more, so if you guys are having a bat problem, free estimate, give us a call, we’ll come out. We’ll give you the low down on what’s going on there and try to help you, and give you an estimate of getting rid of them in a safe and humane manner. That’s all I got, so if you guys have any bat questions, two things we’re getting here in Florida, mostly the Tampa Bay area is the free-tailed bat and the evening bat. I see more free-tails than anything. They’re not the great big African fruit bats that have wing spans of four to six feet, get that out of your head. Unless they’ve escaped from someone, but our bats are small here.
Oh something also I wanted to tell you is here in the near future we have some plans on getting some old pallettes and doing some recycle work and turning them into bat houses and then either donating them to the county or to one of the wildlife societies to be put up around the county, and I’m thinking maybe we can do some cool little project with some kids and we build some bat houses and just have fun. Just have a good fun day with it and make it where you enjoy some time. Maybe we’ll do that with the grand opening of our new office, but build some bat houses. Bat houses do work, they do, you’ve just got to do it right. They will work. It doesn’t happen overnight, but there are some tricks and tips to making bat houses work and we plan on putting on a little seminar with that. Having some fun building some bat houses, teaching some kids about the environment and such and there.
Wish I could think out my sentences, I would get a lot more spoken but it’s a bad habit I need to break. Any other questions, give us a call, 866-263-9453, catch us on the web at WildlifeTrapper.com, Facebook, Facebook.com/wildlife.trapper, and I hope to hear from you all, give us some feedback, subscribe, that’s how we’ve become popular is a few subscriptions and feedback comments. Let us know you’re listening to it, let us know you like it, and stay tuned for some more sessions where we can hopefully help you with human-wildlife conflicts. Thanks. Bye bye.
With over 20 years experience solving urban wildlife conflicts, call Jeff Norris, the Wildlife Trapper for all your nuisance wildlife problems. 1-866-263-WILD. Find us on the web at www.WildlifeTrapper.com also stay up-to-date with local wildlife issues, connect with us on Facebook at Facebook.com/wildlife.trapper, we are your experts for the most humane and technologically advanced solutions to all your wildlife problems. Call now for more information or free inspection 1-866-263-WILD.