Bats returning and roosting in homes

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by Shern-Min Chow / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on April 5, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 5 at 6:29 PM

HOUSTON—As spring settles over the Houston area, something else is moving in.

The bats are coming back from their winter migration and looking for any opening they can find. Bats are certainly not something you want in your home.

Gwen Harris had one in her apartment that was "flying back and forth like it was going crazy."

It was enough to make her and her 16-year-old son a little batty, she said.

"[My son] took the broom and swung at it," Harris said.

The apartment maintenance crew sealed up her fireplace, and days later, the chimney.

But on Sunday, Harris said she heard a rustling noise inside the wall.

"It’s like a little flapping noise ‘fla fla fla’, like a fluttering noise," she said.

Local pest-control company Critter Control came out to take a look at Harris’ situation.

They found telltale dirty rut marks on the sealed chimney and the open chimney next door.

"They (the maintenance crews) have sealed the bats basically in one location and forced them to another location, where they’re trying to look for another way out," Critter Control owner Roman Cardenas said.

Bats are protected by law, so exclusion – not extermination -- is the key. One option is called the bat-excluder device.

It’s really just a heavy piece of netting that crews put over the hole where the bats fly out.

The animals have to crawl down under it to fly away, but when they come back in the morning, they’ll go back to the top, where they’re blocked by the net.

Here in Houston, there are lots of Mexican Freetail bats, which fly to the south in the winter, giving residents a bat break.

But each spring, they come back in force.

"They’re traveling hundreds and hundreds of miles in this migration and coming back to the exact same colony they had the year before," Cardenas said.

Bats typically breed from June to August, and many companies won’t disturb a colony during that time frame.

That means, if they can’t take care of it in the spring, a resident’s next chance for bat relief might not come until the fall.

Click here for more info on bats and bat control.

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