(Taken from the Bat Conservation Trust website)
As their natural habitats have been lost, bats have adapted to roost in houses. Like barn owls some bat species now rely on buildings for shelter.
Common concerns and the facts about living with bats
- Bats are not rodents, and will not nibble or gnaw at wood, wires or insulation.
- Bats do not build nests and therefore do not bring bedding material into the roost; neither do they bring their insect prey into the roost.
- All bats in the UK eat insects, so they are a great form of natural pest control!
- Bat droppings in the UK are dry and crumble away to dust. As a result, there are no known health risks associated with them.
- Female bats usually have only one baby a year, so properties do not become ‘infested’.
- Most bats are seasonal visitors to buildings – they are unlikely to live in the same building all year round, although they are loyal to their roosts and so usually return to the same roosts year after year. However, some species live in the same building all year round, including churches and older buildings with many roosting opportunities (for instance long-eared bats, Natterer’s etc.) Bats are often loyal to their roosts so usually return to them year after year. Consequently, bats’ roosting sites are legally protected from damage or disturbance.
- The rabies risk from UK bats is extremely small. Rabies is transmitted through a bite or a scratch from an infected bat. It is not spread through urine or faeces. Therefore, you are at no risk if you do not handle bats. Learn more about bats and rabies.
- Bats are clean and sociable animals and spend many hours grooming themselves.
How do I know if bats are roosting at my property?
It isn’t always easy to tell if bats are roosting. Some householders have shared their property with bats for years, and not been aware of their presence.
Look very similar to rodent droppings but are dry and will crumble to dust under very little pressure. If you notice any droppings in the loft space or externally, check them with a quick crumble test (with gloves or a tissue).
Another way to identify bats is to perform what we call emergence surveys during the summer months (May-September) when bats are active. Watch the building at dusk to see if any bats emerge. You can take part in a national monitoring scheme – click here. Link is https://www.bats.org.uk/our-work/national-bat-monitoring-programme/surveys/roost-count
Another clue is the chattering sound that bats make at dusk before they fly out to feed. In July and August, they are particularly vocal around dawn, when hungry babies call to mothers as they return from their night’s insect hunting.
Where might bats be roosting in my property?
British bats are small: 3.3 – 8.2cm (1.25 to 3.25 inches) long, and prefer to live in clean, cobweb-free areas where there are no draughts.
Different species of bat prefer different places to roost.
Pipistrelle bats are the species most often found roosting in houses. They often choose tight spaces to roost in. For example, behind barge boards or hanging tiles, between underfelt and tiles, and sometimes between window frames. Look out for droppings on window sills and walls in the summer.
Long-eared bats usually roost inside the roof void, often along the ridge. Look out for droppings in the loft below the roof apex.
Under the Data Protection Act neither BCT, your Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation nor the local Bat Group can give out your personal details without your permission, so you will not be under siege from bat lovers if you seek advice about bats in your property!
Although bats do have legal protection, the law does not expect people to co-exist with bats in the living area (i.e. bedrooms, sitting room, etc.). On the rare occasions where bats from a roost in the roof are consistently finding their way into the living area of the house please contact the Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
Living with bats leaflet – from the Bat Conservation Trust An information leaflet for occupiers of homes which have bat roosts