The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding property owners to check your home and other man-made structures for bats. If you find any, you still have time to exclude them before bat maternity season begins.
Bat maternity season is the time when bats gather to give birth and raise their young, and it runs from April 15 through Aug. 15. During this time, it is illegal to block bats from their roosts. If bats are excluded during maternity season, flightless young can become trapped inside the structure and die. Therefore, now is the time to check your home for any entry points, ensure that no bats are present and make any necessary repairs.
“It’s important for homeowners to know the signs that bats might be present in their home, and to know how to prevent them from taking up residence,” said Terry Doonan, mammal conservation coordinator for the FWC. “Remember, bats can enter through very tiny spaces, smaller than your thumb.”
Guidelines on how to safely exclude bats from buildings can be found at MyFWC.com/Bats. Materials and methods used to exclude bats can affect the success of that process. For more information on how to conduct a bat exclusion, watch this YouTube video: How to Get Bats Out of a Building. Further details on how to conduct a legal bat exclusion can be found at Bat Conservation International. It is illegal to harm or kill bats in Florida, so guidelines have been developed to ensure bats are removed safely and effectively outside of the maternity season.
Florida is home to 13 resident bat species including threatened species, such as the Florida bonneted bat. Florida’s native bats are an important part of our ecosystems and help keep insect populations under control.
There are several ways that Florida residents and visitors can help bats:
• Preserve natural roost sites including trees with cavities and peeling bark. Dead fronds left on palms can also provide roosting spots for bats.
• Put up a bat house.
Avoid handling or touching bats, or any wild animals, especially if they are not acting normally. Bats, like any other wild animal, might bite to defend themselves if handled and they can carry rabies. For more information about rabies, visit the Florida Department of Health at FloridaHealth.gov.
If you have questions or need assistance, contact your closest FWC Regional Office to speak with a wildlife assistance biologist for more information.
More information on bats can be found at MyFWC.com/Bats.