As Bats Emerge from Hibernation, Here are Some Things to Know

As Bats Emerge from Hibernation, Here are Some Things to Know

Most Virginia bats hibernate during the winter months. When April arrives and they emerge from their slumber in search of food, it is not uncommon for one or more to find their way into your home. Should that happen, here are some important things to know.

Virginia’s Bat Species

Seventeen species of bats have been recorded in Virginia, and three of those species are federally endangered and protected under the Endangered Species Act: The Gray Bat, Indiana Bat, and Virginia-Big-Eared Bat. A fourth – the Northern Long-Eared Bat – is federally threatened. What’s more, three other species, the Rafinesque’s Big-Eared Bat, Little Brown Bat, and the Tri-Colored Bat, are state endangered. The remaining 10 bat species are non-game protected in Virginia.

Phew! That’s a lot of bats.

But that’s not all. In Virginia, it is illegal to not only poison a bat but also to transport, release, or relocate a bat anywhere other than the property on which it was caught. So, if you have a bat in your home, it must be humanely caught and then released outside on your own property.

What Happens During Hibernation

Bats don’t actually spend the entire winter asleep. Instead, they wake up time and again for various reasons. Some wake up to find water or food, while others come out of hibernation during winter for mating or to get away from a disturbance. Some bats even wake up to give their immune systems a boost, which helps protect them from illnesses.

Their winter behavior varies by species. For instance, Tri-Colored Bats typically remain in hibernation most of the winter, while Rafinesque’s Big-Eared Bats usually enter hibernation only when it’s very cold outside.

Springtime Bat Behavior

When April arrives, bats tend to stop hibernating for the season, emerging from sleep to seek new shelter – which can include your attic, garage, or other quiet area. When this happens, it is best to call a professional who knows how to remove bats safely, humanely, and in accordance with Virginia law.

Problems with Bats

While bats are an important part of Virginia’s ecosystem and are beneficial to have around – they play an essential role in pest control, pollinating plants, and dispersing seeds – they can cause a number of problems once they get into your home. For instance, their droppings, called guano, can end up covering floors, walls, and other surfaces.

At night, they can also disturb homeowners as they move around and make noise. Although bats can carry illnesses, such as rabies, they have a low risk of spreading these illnesses to humans.

Preventing Bat Problems

To prevent bats from setting up residence in your home, seal any openings that bats could use as an entryway, such as gaps in your roof or near your gutters.

Trimming trees away from your roof might also make it more difficult for bats to reach the exterior of your home and get inside. If you hear noises in your home, such as scraping or vocalizations, especially in the evening, it might be a sign that you have a bat problem.

If bats do make their way into your Virginia home this spring, our pest control experts can help. Just call us to safely have these critters removed from your home – in accordance with Virginia law.