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  • Writer's pictureJsl Editorial Team


Bats are one of the most misunderstood mammals with a great reputation for representing dark sinister things like sucking blood, bad luck and building nests in people’s hair. In Nigeria, local myth even has it that they are half rodent, half birds and they are used as a symbol of hypocrisy! These mistaken beliefs are mostly because they fly at night, roost upside down and live in the roofs of buildings.

Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera, they are the only mammals capable of true and sustained flight. Bats have over 1400 species. This makes up about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide and are divided into two families, megabats and microbats. Megabats are flying "frugivorous" or "nectivorous" (This means that they eat only fruit or the nectar of flowers respectively) bats. Microbats are the small, swarming, insect-eating and blood-drinking (mostly the blood of cows, horses and large birds like fowl) bats that most people are familiar with.

Most bats are nocturnal. They roost in caves, foliage of softwood trees and tree with loose barks. When these natural habitats are unavailable (due to flooding, agriculture, road construction, dam construction and burning of debris), they live in roofs, barns, walls attics and rafters of buildings as they need space to raise their young. Bats are particularly abundant in the tropics. In West Africa, for example, more than 30 genera comprising nearly 100 species have been cataloged!


Contrary to popular myths, bats as part of our ecosystem have a lot of benefits (don’t just see them as nuisance or pest). These include:

  • Bat droppings called guano is used as fertilizer.

  • Bats feed on insect pests including mosquitoes, gnats, bugs etc., reducing the need for pesticides. Bats are said to eat about half their body weight every night. Imagine how they could help to reduce the mosquito population in your yard!

  • Bats also pollinate plants and distribute seeds. This is important for facilitating regrowth of many fruit trees especially after forest clearing.

  • They are sometimes numerous enough and close enough to human settlements to serve as tourist attractions especially at dusk when they move out of their roost to feed and at dawn when they return.

  • Bat’s saliva has unique anti-blood-clotting properties and is currently being used to develop a medication to break up blood clots in stroke patients.

  • They are used as food across Asia.

  • Bats’ guano was used as ammunition during the World War

  • Bats are the world’s only flying mammals.

On the downside;

  • Bats have this acrid lingering odour that emanates from its urine.

  • Bats’ droppings can cause corrosion, stain ceilings and walls thus damaging the building.

  • Bats’ guano can accumulate and pile up so much that disease causing fungi can grow and develop spores in it. The spores can become airborne when disturbed. Bat guano can cause serious lung conditions, hemorrhagic fever or histoplasmosis in regards to the fungus that grows in it.

Note: Do not clean up after bats without full respiratory protection. Avoid inhalation of infected spores. The best option is to call in trained bat control specialists.

  • Bats are also known to as "transmission vectors" for all sorts of viruses, which are easily spread in their close-packed communities and just as easily communicated to other animals within the bats' foraging radius. Most seriously where humans are concerned, bats are known carriers of rabies, and they have also been implicated in the spread of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and the deadly Ebola virus. A good rule of thumb is “if you happen across a disoriented, wounded or sick-looking bat, don't touch it as it is most likely to be rabid!”


Apart from the fact that when bats’ natural habitats are lost, they tend to find other homes, certain factors predispose your buildings to becoming a new home for these flying mammals. These include:

  • Availability of Space such as accessible wall voids, crawl spaces, attics, vents, and similar places.

  • Closeness to a body of water, such as a lake, pond, river, creek, or stream. All mammals need water, and bats are not different.

  • Access to bats’ food. Many bats are insectivores – they feed on small flying insects, like mosquitoes, gnats, fleas, flies, and more.

  • Easy Access. Your property has small holes, gaps, and openings that bats can squeeze through to access inside. They need cracks less than 1/4'' wide!


Home owners that want to protect their buildings from bats may exploit any of the following to bat proof their building.

  • A bat roosting box can be built in the yard to keep bats away from the eaves of roofs.

  • To prevent bats from hanging on the eaves, strong pvc mesh can be placed where the roof meets the wall. Helium balloons can also be used to “float” under the eaves to discourage the bats from roosting. Areas that usually need attention are at the gable apices, beneath the ridge tiles and between the slats of air vents.

  • Batproofing may entail safely removing bats from their roosting area inside a roof by means of one-way valves. Any obvious accessible holes (which may be cracks less than 1/4'' wide) in the roof that the bats are currently using as access points are permanently sealed up except where the one-way valve will be placed. The bats are allowed to leave through the valve and thereafter the hole is permanently sealed up.

Effective materials to exclude bats are expansion foam caulking, flashing, screening, and insulation. Weatherstripping, stainless steel wool, or stainless-steel rustproof scouring pads are also great materials to block long, narrow cracks. Bats will not gnaw their way through wood or building materials unlike rats. Bats are actually closer to primates than to rodents.

Please note the use of chemicals to kill bats is not acceptable because of their ecological importance. Additionally, some bat species are already endangered. Some of these chemicals are also dangerous to human health.

Also, the use of home remedies like mothballs, light or sound has been proved to be ineffective. The bats will return when the smell of the mothballs or other strong-smelling chemicals dissipate. If you flood the roof with light during daytime, they will look for shadows to roost plus you will be consuming a lot of energy – that’s inefficient of course.

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