Let’s be honest: winter nights have almost nothing going for them. They’re cold, dark, long, and, frankly, miserable. Driving home in the dark and cold at 5:30 pm? Hard pass. Winter nights have exactly one thing going for them, in fact: they’re bat free. It doesn’t matter how pleasant a summer night is if you run into a bat. You’ll wish it had been winter.
Unfortunately, however, you already know the name of this blog, so you know where this is going. Bats don’t actually disappear during winter. Instead, they simply hole up and wait out the cold. If they hole up near you, your winter nights may not be bat free at all. Then they’ll have nothing going for them. To avoid that, here’s what you should know about bats during winter and how to prevent them.
What Bats Do in Winter
Bats begin hibernating in mid-October
and stay dormant until they wake up in spring. In order to hibernate safely, bats need to find roosts where they can stay warm and sheltered. Bats can’t survive freezing temperatures, even when they’re hibernating. Any roost bats shelter in for the winter must be at least 45 degrees or warmer. They also seek out dark, secluded, and sheltered places that can keep them safe from predators. Bats are defenseless while they’re hibernating.
Bat hibernation is unusual because they can enter their inactive state (or “torpor”) for highly variable lengths of time. The common Little brown bat can hibernate for more than six months
, or they can enter torpor for only a few hours. Bats can also wake up out of torpor while hibernating more frequently than some animals. Their body temperature rapidly returns to normal and they can fly and hunt for food. Bats frequently “wake up” on warm winter days.
Why Bats Can Be a Problem in Winter
As you may have noticed, your attic probably meets every requirement bats need for their winter time roosts. Well, unfortunately, bats probably noticed that too. Bats become a problem during winter when they use your home as an over-winter roost. Once inside, bats will look for the darkest, quietest place they can find. Usually, they’ll sneak into your attic, rafters, walls, shed, or even crawl spaces
. They could also roost in your basement, though that’s less common.
While they’re hibernating, bats remain perfectly motionless. You might not even realize they’re in your house! Unfortunately, however, bats rarely stay in hibernation all winter. Instead, they wake up periodically. When they wake up, they’re hungry, thirsty, and often confused. They may fly around your attic or even (in rare cases) the rest of your home. They’ll probably also produce unsanitary waste in and around their roosts. Although it’s very rare, confused or frightened bats may also bite people in your home
Where Bats Get Into Your Home
Bats get into people’s homes by finding and squeezing through small openings. Any 5/16” by 1½” structural penetration or ⅝” by ⅞” hole will do the trick. According to Bat Conservation International, if you can stick your pinky finger in the opening, a bat can use it
. These openings tend to be high up, around window frames, roofing, utility lines, siding, or awnings. Bats also often fly in through unscreened vents or chimneys.
Probably the most common way bats get into your home is through damage. Torn screens and vents, loose shingles, missing chimney caps, and rotting siding can all create bat-exploitable openings
. Frustratingly, this kind of damage frequently happens during the winter when you’re not looking for it. Bats can also inflict minor damage of their own to get inside if they have to. They’ve been known to squeeze through thin layers of insulation or punch through damaged weatherproofing.
How to Keep Bats Out this Winter
Excluding bats this winter is a lot like excluding rodents; you have to find and cut off their access points
. Start inside and work your way out if necessary. Go to bat-vulnerable areas like your attic, crawl spaces, rafters, and basement. Look for any signs of drafts, structural damage, or other openings bats could exploit. Use caulk or other tools to repair or close up these openings. Pay especially close attention to corners, baseboard, and window frames.
Next, you should look for any unscreened exhaust vents or chimneys. These are basically big, open entrances for bats to use as they see fit. Install sturdy screens to block off access quickly and easily. Finally, walk the perimeter of your home. Look for any signs of damage that bats may use to squeeze inside. Replace damaged siding, shingles, and masonry. Pay special attention to any gaps between utilities like downspouts, gutters, chimneys, or pipes and the walls.
Winter is already a difficult time of year. It’s cold, harsh, long, and dreary. Nobody deserves to have to deal with a bat infestation on top of all that. Luckily, keeping bats away from your home isn’t too difficult. By following these exclusion steps, you’ll be able to salvage at least one good thing about winter nights.
If one of these winter nights does happen to lead to an unfortunate encounter, don’t panic! Just call the experts at Varment Guard
. We’ll help remove the bats in your home and make sure they can’t come back. You don’t deserve to deal with bats this winter, so call us and you won’t have to. Stay warm!