ABC Blog

What Do Bats Eat?

a bat hanging on a tree.

Bats have gotten a bad reputation from movies and urban legends for attacking humans and drinking their blood. In reality, people are not the food of choice for bats. However, not all bats are alike—there are hundreds of species of bats, and they feed on a wide variety of things.

For example, some types of bats eat plants and plant parts like pollen, seeds, nectar and fruit. These bats typically like bananas, figs and mangoes the most. As the bats move from plant to plant, they often help distribute seeds and pollinate plants along their path. These plant-eating bats may also target other sweet things, such as the sugary water used in hummingbird feeders.

There are also some bat species that eat meat and drink blood. While bats don’t typically attack humans, some kinds of bats will eat other kinds of animals, such as lizards, fish, birds, frogs and other bats. Additionally, a few types of bats found in South and Central America feed on blood, although they mainly drink deer, sheep, cattle and horse blood.

Although homeowners don’t want these creatures on their property, bats benefit our ecosystem by eating mosquitoes and other insects. Yet, of all the different kinds of food out in the world, the diet that most bats prefer is insects. These insectivores prefer to feast on bugs like mosquitoes, wasps, flies, beetles, gnats and moths. Many people are surprised to find out just how much bats can eat. Some kinds of insect-eating bats can even devour as many as 500 bugs in an hour. They usually go hunting around dusk and use echolocation which involves a high-frequency sound to find their insect prey.

This means that if you think you are dealing with a bat problem, then it is possible that you might actually be dealing with an insect issue. Since most bats eat insects, having bats show up on your property could mean that you have an overabundance of insects. If you control the insects on your property, there’s a good chance that the bats will leave as well.

a bat hanging upside down.

Why Do Bats Come to Our Homes?

Besides wanting to feed on the insects on your property, bats also may choose to live on your property because they are looking for a home. Bats usually live in dark and cool natural shelters, such as in the hollows of trees or in caves. Some kinds of bats also like to live in man-made areas like buildings and under bridges. Finally, there are some bat species that will move into your home if they cannot find an available natural shelter.

Although bats do not usually make holes in buildings, they can enter your home through existing gaps as small as half an inch. They usually roost on the exterior of buildings, such as along eaves. If they find an opening, they might make it into your house—especially into more undisturbed areas like the attic.
There are natural ways to make your home less attractive to bats and rodents. It’s a good idea to install screens on your doors and windows and seal any holes on the exterior of your house. Look for cracks or gaps anywhere along the outside of your home. Areas around plumbing, shutters, vents, the chimney, siding and shingles are especially susceptible.
If you suspect you have bats on your property, it’s essential to contact a wildlife control specialist as soon as possible. While bats eat insects, these creatures can also leave unsightly droppings (also called guano) and can spread diseases. Guano can grow dangerous mold and the bats themselves can carry viruses like rabies.
Although most bats do not target humans, they might bite or scratch a person or pet if they feel threatened. For example, if your child tries to pick up a bat or your dog tries to sniff one, then the bat might react by attacking them.

This is why it is best to have these creatures removed by a professional. A trusted bat control specialist can determine what kind of bats you have on your property, figure out any features on your property that they’re attracted to and help take care of all your bat and pest control needs.

a bat sleeping outside.

How Long Do Bats Live?

As the only mammal that flies on its own, bats are fascinating creatures. Most bat species live for about 10 to 12 years, but some types of bats can live to be over 30 years old. These flying mammals mate in the fall, hibernate during the winter and form nursery colonies full of bat mothers and babies in the spring. Dozens or even hundreds of female bats and babies can live together in these nursery colonies. Male bats roost separately during this time—either by themselves or in small groups.

The female bats typically give birth in the summer between May and July. During their lifetime, most female bats usually give birth to only one baby at a time (also called a pup), but they can sometimes carry twins. When pups are very young and unable to fly on their own, their mothers carry them around while they hunt. The babies cling to mom and feed on her milk until they are big enough to fly.
Once they get to be about one or two months old, the pups start hunting and learning how to find food and water on their own. Around August or the end of summer, the nursery colonies will start to disband as mating season begins again in the fall, and the cycle starts all over.
Part of the reason controlling bats can be so difficult is because they are federally protected during their mating season. Depending on where you live and what kind of bats you are dealing with, you can face an expensive fine if you kill, trap or move a bat, or destroy a protected bat habitat.

While not all types of bats are protected, it is difficult to figure out what kind of bats you have on your property without the help of a rodent and wildlife control expert. That is why it is best to contact a professional for bat control instead of trying to handle it on your own. These professionals know the laws surrounding bat control and have the training and experience needed to safely remove these animals from your home. They can also help you prevent pest problems in the future.

How to Get Rid of Bats

A single bat might get into your home when they are lost or confused. Most often, this happens with baby bats around mid to late summer, when the pups are first learning to fly and find their way around the neighborhood. If this happens, the bat will typically leave on its own once it figures out how to get out of the house. To encourage the bat to leave, you can leave your exterior doors and windows open, turn off any ceiling fans and wait quietly until it exits.

If you have a consistent problem with a bat or a colony of bats on your property, then you might need a different strategy. There are a variety of methods and products on the market that claim they can help you get rid of or repel bats. One example is the ultrasonic pest repellent. These devices work by putting out a high-pitched noise that they claim will repel bats and a variety of pests. However, these devices have not been scientifically proven to work.
Some people try to use liquid or gel repellents. Some of these substances claim to be nontoxic to humans and pets, but it’s still possible that any chemical repellent could harm you if you touch it or it gets into your drinking water. You could also face federal penalties if your bat repellent kills or harms the bats on your property.

The most effective way to deal with bats is to contact a professional. A specialist can ensure the bats are removed legally and can give you tips on how to avoid bat problems in the future. Since many kinds of bats are protected by federal and state laws, it is critical to hire a trusted rodent and wildlife control specialist. These professionals have the experience and training to determine what kind of bat you are dealing with and help you understand your options for removal.

ABC Can Remove Unwanted Wildlife From Your Property

While bats can eat mosquitoes, having bats on your property can be very nerve-wracking. Between their size, the diseases they carry and the laws that protect them, do-it-yourself bat control is no easy task. When you contact ABC Home & Commercial Services, we will send a specialist to your property who will be able to evict the pests on your property. Then, they will put measures in place to prevent them from coming back. We can even implement a broader pest control strategy to make your property less appealing to all types of unwanted pests in your home and yard. With ABC’s help, you can have peace of mind that you aren’t sharing your home with bats or exposing your family to any risks that come with finding bats in your attic, chimney or crawlspace.

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