Bats in the Belfry

Jun 22 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Sci got home last night to a rather interesting occurrence. A bat in the house. Myotis lucifugus, I'm pretty sure. One of these:

Rather cute, right? Except for the teeth thing...and the rabies vector thing...
It was flying around in a truly panicked manner, and would only come to rest in places too high for me to reach. This is also why I do not have a home grown pic (which I really wanted). The other reason for this would be that Sci doesn't have a camera...but we've all got issues, right?
Catching bats in a difficult venture. Sci has had a bat before, and what you've got to do is slip a wide-mouthed jar (or shoebox, or something) over the bat, then slide a piece of cardboard under that to trap it. Alternatively, you can try and open all the doors and windows and letting it fly out. Clearly, this bat was NOT the best navigator (echolocation FAIL, it flew by the door at least 50 times!!!). But it never came to rest in a place where the landlord and I could reach it, and suffice it to say, the landlord was not...thrilled about the bat, and probably less than sure in this manner of trying to trap it.

Eventually it flew out the window. But it took a couple of hours. So there will be no post today. You get a bat story instead.
Anyone got advice on how to get bats out? Does making sound make them fly around more, or less? Soothing sounds? Hefty gloves? Advice appreciated.

11 responses so far

  • NotoriousLTP says:

    I don't have any advice for extracting the little buggers, but I knew a woman who worked in a rabies lab that raised fruit bats. She told me that at night to keep them warm while they sleep they would wrap them in torn up pieces of sweatpants.
    So the next time, if you can't get rid of it, at least you can always keep it warm at night 🙂

  • superflunky says:

    I recall being told that one simple way to get rid of a bat is with a c02 fire extinguisher. Give the little guy a few second squirt and between the cold and the oxygen deprivation he'll just pass out. Its nice because it works from a distance. You can then bag him take him outside and wait for him to wake up. You will want to make sure the extinguisher is only co2 and not co2 + a chemical flame retardant of course both for the sake of the bat and your house.

  • chezjake says:

    There's an important addition to the "open the doors and windows" method that greatly increases its effectiveness: you need to also turn out the lights. When lights are on, bats want to sleep in a secure place; when lights are off, bats want to go out hunting for dinner.

  • gg says:

    A friend of mine once had a bat fly into his university apartment while I was helping him move. University security opened all the doors, and took off and held up his jacket as an 'artificial wall' to help guide the bat out.

  • Hefty gloves are definitely it. The kind you use for pulling stuff out of the autoclave should suffice - they're what I've always used anyway. Bats will still try to (and probably succeed at) biting through them but the gloves are so big and clunky that I've never had one connect with a finger.
    If you let your bat get comfortable for a day or two it will probably start hunting in your house. Turn on a light and let the bugs in, and the bat will most likely adopt a VERY stereotypic flight path around where the bugs are congregating, like a figure-8 right near the ceiling. If it's been at it a while it is most likely NOT still using echolocation to navigate, just to detect bugs. So if you're quick about it you can stick wide-mouth butterfly net directly in the line of flight and snag it that way. Use gloves to extract bat from net. I have found this method to be highly successful, although if you're catching a bat indoors, you still have the bug problem to deal with once you've snagged your chiropteran.

  • JLK says:

    Ooh, good point, chezjake. I read your comment, smacked myself in the forehead, and went "Oooooh yeah! Duh!"
    @AA - I'm pretty sure that I'd rather have a bat take up permanent residency in my house to hunt for bugs than to let a shitload of bugs into my house and have no way to get rid of them. I'm pretty sure the chances of the bat landing on my face while I'm sleeping are much, much lower than the chances of the bugs crawling on me.
    Bats just don't freak me out. It's probably the ONLY thing that doesn't freak me out. I'd just open up the windows, turn out the lights, put on some music and just chill with the little fucker until he decides I'm boring.

  • Or you could always get one of these...saves you the whole mess.

  • Cool post, they do look pretty cute, but I think I'd have the girly-girl / Ace Ventura "it's in my hair, IT'S IN MY HAIR" reaction personally.
    I feel your camera pain... I have one, but I've lost the charger for it so it's USELESS! WHY won't it just charge the battery via USB connection like a sensible device???

  • Evil Monkey says:

    I knocked mine down with a broom and trapped it under a bucket, then called animal control. I didn't want to risk my cats getting rabies...

  • Richard says:

    How to catch a bat in your house... I never would have thought that i would be responding to a request for personal information about how to catch a bat and get it out of your house, but here I am doing so... i came home around 3am, opened the door to my place and pretty much had to duck as i saw this terrified bat flying around desperately trying to escape the light of my front entrance (which I had turned on upon opening my front door). I had no idea what to do next, but when the bat landed on the top of my couch, i thought to get a towel from the bathroon to capture it at some opportune time (such as when it might land on the floor...). Of course, the bloody thing continued to fly around and I ended up feeling like a lame bull-fighter as the bat would fly in my direction and my attempt to ward it off was to play the bull-fighter with my towel. Pretty funny! I'm thinking, what the hell do I do to capture this confused litte creature so that i may release it into the night and I may finally get some sleep? Finally, I came up with the BRIGHT idea to turn all of my lights on in the immediate area (after shutting any other doors to other rooms where it might just like to go...). so here I am looking at the little creature trying to hide behind a box on a cabinet, covering it's eyes so as to keep out the light. So what do I do next? At least the bat is incapacitated by all the lights on... Another great idea! I took an empty, but see-through yogurt type of container, attached a 3 ft length piece of wood to the container with (you guessed it) DUCT TAPE and reached over to the top of the cabinet and captured the petrified little beastie inside. Then I took a slim piece of cardboard and sealed off any of the bat's escape plans once and for all. Having already propped open my front door, I was easily able to take the bat outside and release it into the night. Now we are both the happier for it!

  • GMBofWIS says:

    When a bat that was flying around in a basement finally landed (fortunately on a wall where I could reach it easily), I trapped it under a bowl. A stiff cardboard slid carefully between the wall and the bowl made a cover for the bowl and I was able to carry it outdoors and release it. This won't work while he's's still flying so wait for him to come to rest. If he doesn't land where you can reach him, scare him up to try again. I've also done this successfully with flying bugs of all sorts.

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