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Expert gives tips on how to exclude bats

Bats taking up residence in roofs is a common problem in the Mopani region of Limpopo but according to Jane Burd, director at ReWild and resident of Phalaborwa, there are humane ways to get bats to move out of the roofs of houses, lodges and businesses.

“Bats are not a problem in roofs. If you are genuinely having a problem with a very large number of bats in your roof, then they are most likely free-tailed bats that live in larger colonies. Bats are clean animals; they do not chew wires like rats and they provide an insect control service to humans. One small bat can eat up to 600 mosquito-sized insects in an hour, so before deciding to remove them, make sure they are a problem,” says Burd.

Burd recommends excluding bats from the roof. This has to be done outside of bat breeding season and Burd recommends mid-June to September for bat exclusions. Bat exclusions involve observing the bats at just before sunset until dark to see where the bats leave the roof. “You may also see white urine streaks on the wall, dark marks on the wall where they squeeze through to leave the roof and bat droppings or guano on the ground around the building,” says Burd.

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Each entry and exit point will require an exclusion device like pipes and occasionally plastic mesh. The exclusion device works like a one-way door, the bats fly out in the evening but are unable to get back into the roof. Exclusion devices should be left for at least seven days as not all bats leave every evening. Burd says that when bat exclusions are done properly bats should not get harmed or killed. “There is no need to chase bats out using smoke, chemicals or poison.

Putting up bat houses before doing a bat exclusion, is recommended as it gives bats alternative accommodation and reduces the risk of bats taking up residence in another roof. “The homeowner also continues to benefit from the insect control services provided by the bats,” says Burd. After successfully excluding bats from the roof the gaps must be sealed. “While the method of   exclusion is simple it is not all that easy to get it right the first time but with patience and perseverance it is possible and it works,” says Burd.

Burd says that ReWild can give property owners professional help in excluding bats and that they are willing to assist members of the public to get it right. They also manufacture bat houses, offer bat exclusions and can recommend other organisations that use the same humane and effective way to get bats out of roofs. “Killing bats is only a temporary solution as often a new colony will move in within a year,” Burd explains.

“Bats have long lifespans and are slow breeding animals and are very sensitive to persecution,” she says. Contact Jane Burd and ReWild at 082 457 7297 or email jane@ReWildNPC. co.za for assistance and more information on bat exclusions

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