Apr 9, 2024 - News

Bats in the attic? Officials won't help remove them during the summer

A person holding a bat.

A Mexican free-tailed bat. Photo: Courtesy of Critter Control of Phoenix

If you suspect bats have made a home in your attic, you should remove them before the end of the month or you may live with them through the summer.

Why it matters: Bat maternity season runs from May to September, and disturbing them during this time could result in separation from their young, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

  • All 28 species of bats in Arizona are protected because some are endangered.
  • State law forbids killing them, and the department has strict guidance on how and when bats can be removed from buildings.

Reality check: It's not technically illegal to remove bats during this time, according to the state.

  • Yes, but: You'll be on your own — licensed wildlife specialists will not disrupt bats from places like attics during maternity season, Critter Control of Phoenix district manager Andrew Cuen tells Axios Phoenix.

How it works: The recommended bat removal technique is called "exclusion" and involves finding the entry point and installing a one-way door to allow bats to exit but not return, Cuen says.

  • Performing an exclusion while a bat is nesting would prevent a mother from getting back to her babies, and that is why the practice should not be attempted in the summer, he says.

Zoom in: "People going into the attic … can put a lot of stress on not only the baby but also the mom," Cuen adds.

  • "They can actually have an increased chance of dying during that time because this is such a fragile state with the newborn."

The Arizona Game and Fish Department asks homeowners to consider allowing the bats to stay — even past maternity season — if they are not in the living quarters or causing damage.

Yes, but: There are exceptions if a bat is in your living space. In those scenarios, residents should contact the department or a private wildlife control company.

Zoom in: If you're a no-go on bat roommates, Cuen says, people can discourage bats from roosting by:

  • Controlling the insect population (that's what bats eat) in your yard by installing dimmer outdoor lights or calling a pest control service.
  • Cover the corners of your porch or patio (bats like those high spots).
  • Make sure there are no openings in your roof or siding. Bats can squeeze into spaces as small as three-eighths of an inch, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

What we're watching: Increased rainfall the past two years is helping urban wildlife populations — including bats — thrive and grow, Cuen says.

  • He said bat calls used to come primarily from homes around the Superstition Mountains, but now he's getting them all over the Valley.

The bottom line: "It's still wild to me to think that we live this close to wildlife, but they were here first," Cuen says.

  • "We're intruding on their homes, so we need to find a way that we can coexist together."
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