The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds people to check homes and other buildings for roosting bats before maternity season starts.
While Florida’s 13 native bat species are generally beneficial and typically roost in trees, caves or other natural spaces, sometimes they are attracted to human-made structures.
April 15 marks the start of bat maternity season and is the last day to legally exclude bats from your home or building. Bat maternity season, the time when bats give birth and raise their young, runs through Aug. 14. During that time, it is illegal to block bats from their roosts. If bats are excluded during maternity season, flightless young can be trapped inside the structure and die.
So now is the time to check your home for any entry points, ensure that no bats are present and make any necessary repairs. If bats are found, you should take steps now to exclude them before bat maternity season begins. It is only legal to use exclusion devices from Aug. 15 through April 15.
Exclusion devices, which allow bats to safely exit a structure but block them from returning to roosts, are the only legal and most effective method to remove bats from a home or building. It is illegal in Florida to kill or harm bats, so guidelines were developed to ensure bats are excluded safely and effectively from buildings outside of maternity season.
Bat exclusion is a multi-step process that begins by identifying all potential bat entry and exit points in a building. To legally exclude bats, exclusion devices must be installed on key exit points, left up for a minimum of four nights and the exclusion must be conducted when the overnight temperature is forecast to be 50ºF or above.
Bats are ecologically and economically beneficial, as they serve critical functions due to their roles in insect pest control and as pollinators and seed dispersers, plus their guano can be a valuable fertilizer. Florida’s bats are insectivores and a single bat can eat hundreds of insects, including mosquitoes and other garden and agricultural pests, each night.
Florida’s native bat populations include threatened species such as the Florida bonneted bat. Florida residents and visitors can help the state’s bats by preserving natural roost sites, including trees with cavities or peeling bark; leaving dead fronds on palm trees to provide roosting spots for bats; installing a bat house on their property; and reporting unusual bat behavior, as well as sick or dead bats to MyFWC.com/BatMortality.
For more information about how to properly exclude bats as well as other tips to bat-proof your home, visit MyFWC.com/Bats and click “Bats in Buildings.” Questions, or to obtain more assistance, should be directed to the FWC Regional Office in Panama City at 850-265-3676 to speak with a wildlife assistance biologist.