By Starrla Cray
MAYER, WATERTOWN, MN A bat-infested home or business can drive a person a bit batty, but Mark Iversen and John Hoese of A-1 Wildlife Control know how to make good of a “bat” situation.
“Most houses have bats,” Iversen said. “People just don’t know it until one flies through the living room.”
Iversen of Mayer and Hoese of Watertown have been doing bat removal for the past 20 years, and by now, they’ve seen almost everything.
“Most people are surprised,” Iversen said. “Bats live in groups. There’s no such thing as having a bat.”
There can be anywhere from 10 bats to “thousands” in a single location, according to Iversen.
“The longer they’re there, the more you’re going to have,” he said.
The small size of bats means that they can fit into very small spaces.
“They’re no bigger than a mouse,” Iversen said. “You can fit 70 to 100 in a coffee can.”
Bats can be found in any type of home old or new, big or small.
“We’ve done six-month-old homes on Lake Minnetonka,” Iversen said. “It’s just the way houses are built.”
Fortunately, the only real threat bats possess is their urine and droppings.
“They’re harmless,” Iversen said, adding that he’s never been bitten by a bat. “I’m more scared of a neighbor’s dog coming across the street and biting me.”
The probability of a bat carrying rabies is extremely small. Of the sick bats that are brought in for testing, less than 1 percent test positive for the rabies virus. Like other mammals, bats might have parasites or other diseases, but they usually don’t pose a threat to humans.
Bat urine, droppings, and skeletons can be very expensive to clean out of a home or business, Iversen said.
“It’s much cheaper to get rid of the bats in the first place,” he said.
Because bats are federally protected, it is necessary to use non-lethal, chemical-free methods to take bats out of buildings.
A1 Wildlife Control uses a one-way exclusion device, which allows bats to escape, without allowing them to return.
“We custom-make them on the spot, because every home is different,” Iversen said.
The exclusion devices are tiny galvanized or stainless steel boxes that are attached to the side of buildings at the bats’ entry points.
“I can tell exactly how they’re getting in,” Iversen said.
After the bats have flown away, A-1 Wildlife Control seals the entire house, to prevent the bats from trying to get back in.
“They can squeeze into spaces a little less than the thickness of a pencil,” Iversen said.
After all the holes are sealed, homeowners should watch for new holes that could be made from woodpeckers, loose nails, squirrels, or weather-related expansion and contraction.
“Bats don’t make holes bats use existing holes,” Iversen explained.
Bats live in houses yearround, but during the winter, they are in hibernation.
“We can’t do anything, because the bats won’t go outside,” Iversen said.
A1 Wildlife starts doing bat removal in the spring, before the birthing season. During birthing season, laws prevent bats from being excluded from a house, because the newborn bats would be left to die.
After birthing season is over, companies are free to continue with bat removal.
A-1 Wildlife Control travels to various parts of Minnesota, in order to keep busy when parts of the state are in birthing season.
“We’re busy seven days a week,” Iversen said.
The company used to remove other types of animals, such as skunks, raccoons, and squirrels, but now, they primarily concentrate on bats.
“We don’t have time to do anything other than bats,” Iversen said.
For more information about A-1 Wildlife Control, call (612) 240-3629, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.a1wildlifecontrol.com.
Do you have bats?
Here are a few common signs of bat infestation in your home:
• Squeaking, scratching, or crawling sounds in your walls or attic.
• Dead bats found in your home.
• Bat droppings in the attic, walls, or other parts of the house.
• Seeing bats fly away from your home at dusk.
• Strong urine smell, especially on hot days.