Updated: Sep 22, 2020
There are currently 20 species (13 native) of bats that inhabit Florida. Of those species, 7 have taken residence, but not through unnatural means. As such, they are all granted protection by the State of Florida. Bats, while often feared by many, offer very little threat to human beings. However, there are some potential concerns. Rabies is a potentially high concern, but only if physically bitten. Florida’s bats are insectivorous and their only means of biting someone is if they are physically captured and handled inappropriately or in generally an unsafe manner. It is highly advised that most people do not attempt to capture or otherwise handle wild Florida bat species.
Despite there being 20 species inhabiting Florida, the Brazilian Free-tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) (Seen above) is by far the most commonly found within Central Florida. These bats like all other Florida bats are insectivorous and do us a great service by reducing insect populations, especially of the flying variety such as mosquitoes. They are a natural pest control source that offers many benefits and takes very little in return. However, having bats too closely or worse, within the residence, can bring unexpected problems.
A large roost of bats around the home will often first be noticed by a very distinct odor that can only be experienced and not explained. However, once you’ve encountered it, it will never be forgotten. Their guano carries a pungent odor and is in high quantity due to their very fast metabolisms. Fecal matter from bats, especially in enclosed environments, can potentially grow a mold. That mold, when disturbed releases spores into the air which if breathed in can result in the lung disease known as Histoplasmosis. It is for this reason, that only a professional in nuisance wildlife conflicts should deal with these issues and attempt to remove and mediate bats and/or bat guano from a home structure.
Signs of bat activity around your home can be a crude, unexplainable odor. Looking around the home, you may perhaps encounter brown “pellets” of fecal matter stuck to the exterior walls. Further, you may actually see an active roost indicated by a small opening (often in soffit, roof returns, or gaps in brick walls around chimneys, stucco and other places) that is covered with a dark brown substance smeared around it (Seen below).
**Important notice**: Bats in the State of Florida have a protected maternity season from the month of April 15th through August 15th. This maternity season is designed to help protect bat populations from substantial damage to uprooting roosting females which can negatively impact mating and subsequently reproduction. During this time, it is ILLEGAL to physically vacate bats from an active roost. The only services that can be provided is a preventative exclusion to prevent the bats from spreading to other locations on the residence, but any active roosts must be left alone. There are exceptions, but these require special permits offered strictly through Florida Wildlife Commission and are only granted on very rare exceptions. Generally, the bats would have to have a direct opening and access into the living space posing high safety and/or health risk to the human inhabitants. Essentially, suffice it to say, that most likely as long as the bats are not physically getting into the residence in high numbers, they will not issue a permit. However, we can still help to keep the situation under control until the end of the maternity season and ensure that your family stays healthy and safe.
If you see any of these things around your home in Polk County, Hillsborough County, or Pasco County Florida, please call Nature-Tech Wildlife Solutions LLC at 813.699.9079 today and let us help mitigate this issue for your health and well-being!