Living with Bats

hibernating little brown bat
Photo credit: Simon Dodsworth - NHIC Archive

Eight kinds of bats live in Ontario.  The most common are the little brown bat and the big brown bat. The less common species are the eastern pipistrelle, silver-haired, hoary, red, small-footed and northern long-eared.

 

Bats hibernate from November to March. The big brown bat is the most likely species to hibernate in buildings like houses and barns.

 

In the summer, bats may select attics for raising their young. Bats can squeeze through very tiny spaces (as narrow as six millimetres). This is how they access many roosting areas.

 

Bats eat insects. One bat can consume hundreds of flying insects each night during the summer. They locate food by using echolocation – bats send out signals and when the echo of that signal bounces back to them, they can identify where objects are located.

 

Owls prey on bats at night. During the day, snakes or raccoons may prey on bats while they are roosting.

 

Conflicts happen

 

Bats can cause concern when they become unwanted guests in an attic, inside a wall of a home or inside the home itself.
 
Please keep in mind…

 

Wild animals have the same basic needs as humans – food, water and shelter. Sometimes, humans and wild creatures come into conflict when animals are trying to meet their basic needs. Often, conflicts can be prevented if we're willing to make small changes to how we think and act.

 

People and wild animals live side by side in Ontario. We all share responsibility for preventing and handling human-wildlife conflicts. If you must take action against wildlife, please consider all your options and follow all relevant laws and regulations.

 

 

Conflicts with Bats

 

How Can I Prevent Conflicts?

 

Bat-proof your home 

  • Assess sites where bats may get into your home, including chimneys, joints, at building corners, where pipes penetrate ceilings or walls in attics, between porches/additions and the main structure, between shingles or where walls meet eaves.
  • From October to March, when bats are hibernating elsewhere, or after you are sure no bats are roosting in the attic, seal all potential entry holes.

 

If a bat is roosting in your home 

  • If you find a bat in your home and there was no human or animal contact, try to confine the bat to one room, turn out the lights and open a window. The bat should fly out early in the evening.
  • Encourage bats to leave by shining bright lights, pointing a fan or playing loud music in their roost site.
  • Begin the harassment process shortly before dark and keep it in place day and night.
  • Use ultrasonic devices which emit sounds that bats don't like but are inaudible to humans. These devices, which are available online, are placed in an area with the roosting bats.
  • Call a local wildlife control agent for assistance with bat problems.

 

How Can I Handle a Conflict?

 

If you have direct contact with a bat 

  • Always wear gloves and other protective clothing when bats are present.
  • Warn children to stay away from bats and to report any contact with them.
  • Although the percentage of rabid bats is very low in Ontario, any bat encountered should be considered rabid unless captured and proven otherwise.
  • If anyone has had direct contact with a bat, the bat should be safely captured and not released. Contact your local public health unit or your doctor for assistance in evaluating potential rabies risk and submitting the bat for testing.
  • Report any unusual bat deaths to the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at 1-866-673-4781 or the Natural Resources Information Centre at 1-800-667-1940.

 

Lethal action is a last resort 

  • Never trap bats inside a structure; this is needlessly cruel to the bats and can create a serious odour problem.
  • A landowner may humanely kill or trap bats that are damaging or about to damage their property. Firearm regulations and bylaws must be followed.
  • You may also hire an agent to act on your behalf. 

 

For more information and assistance…

To locate a local wildlife control agent…
• Speak with your neighbours, family, and friends.  Look for "animal control" in your phone book or online.

For information on bats…
• Call your local Ministry of Natural Resources office or the Natural Resources Information Centre at 1-800-667-1940.
• Check out Hinterland Who's Who
• Learn about bat ecology on the MNR website
• Learn about White Nose Syndrome in bats on the MNR website

For information on how to prevent conflicts with bats…
• Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PDF, 313 KB)
• City of Ottawa

 

 

 

Return to Living with Wildlife Species Fact Sheets list.

 

 

 

Bats are the only mammals that can fly. Their wings are folds of skin stretched between elongated finger bones, the sides of the body, the hind limbs and the tail.