Bats are a protected species in South Africa, and rightly so, as they are very valuable in nature. But sometimes the little critters like to share our homes with us, and the guano and smell is not always very pleasant.
So what to do if a colony of bats has infested your roof? The first thing to do is to not panic. Most of the stories you might have heard about bats are simply not true. To set the facts straight, here’s a couple of real facts about bats.
• Bats will NOT get tangled in your hair.
• Bats in South Africa do not drink blood.
• Bats are not blind, they can see very well.
• Insectivorous bats eat insects, thereby helping to keep pests away from your home.
• The flies that live on bats cannot live on any other animal, so you will not get disease from bats.
• Bats do not breed like rats, they have only 1 or 2 young per year.
Getting rid of bats is not the easiest thing in the world, but it can be done. Firstly, you don’t want to kill any of them, you simply want them to leave, so you must make a place in your roof where they can exit, but they cannot enter. To do this, you have to make a one – way bat valve. This is a device that bats can get out of, but cannot get into.
To make one, you need a length of 100 millimetre diameter plastic pipe, like the ones plumbers use for sewer pipes. Add a length soft plastic to the one end, something like a tube made out of thick paint covers. The idea is that the bat should be able to go in from the open side, and will then fall through and be able to fly away, but when they return they must not be able to grab onto the plastic and get back into your house.
See the first picture below.
Now take this valve and place it at one of the holes where the bats like to exit, with the pipe and extra plastic tubing facing down. The open end of the pipe must be well sealed against your house, so that there is no space for a bat to crawl into your roof.
Now you have to use something like PU foam to seal up your roof. Seal every crack and crevice and opening you can find. Bats are very small and can get into very little openings, so anything as large as your finger has to be sealed.
After a few days, check your roof to make sure all the bats are out. Then it’s time to remove your one – way bat valve and seal up that entrance point, and you should now be bat free.
If you still have bats though, you have missed a hole where they can get in and out.
There are 75 bat species known in Southern Africa, of which 56 species occur in South Africa.