Download Birds, Bats, Buildings and You leaflet produced by the Heritage Council in 2010.
Advice on Living with Bats
from Dr Ferdia Marnell, Head of Animal Ecology, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
The Bat Helpline freephone number is 1800 405 000
Bats traditionally roost in trees, caves, old buildings, cellars and bridges. But bats will also use houses where attics, walls and eaves provide potential roosting sites. Bats use houses seasonally, rather like swallows, arriving in April or May and leaving in September. Bats rarely cause any problems when they roost in houses and many householders all over Ireland have lived happily with their bats for many years.
‘Every summer we get hundreds and hundreds of queries about bats, and in particular about bats in houses’ explained Dr Ferdia Marnell of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. ‘It’s the time of year when a bat can fly in an open window pursuing an insect or a young bat exploring their roost in an attic will squeeze down through cracks around piping and end up in the hot press. There are some simple steps that homeowners can take to manage these situations'.
We are under significant pressure from the European Commission to improve the level of protection we afford all bat species in Ireland. We have identified a number of areas where conflict may arise and we are taking proactive steps to address them. This helpline will provide practical advise to homeowners to enhance their appreciation of bats and to help ensure happy co-habitation with their bats. This will in turn help to improve the conservation status of these protected species.
Irish bats are hugely beneficial to us as they eat midges, mosquitoes and other pest species in enormous numbers. Even our smallest bats, the pipistrelles, which will fit on the end of your thumb, can easily consume 3,000 insects in one night. Other bat species will feed on moths, beetles and spiders.
More information about bats and a leaflet on Bats in Houses can be found on www.npws.ie
There are 10 different species of bats in Ireland, some very rare, others still quite widespread. The species most usually found in houses in Ireland are the common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle and the brown long-eared bat.
Bats pose no threat to you or your home. In fact, bats and people have been sharing buildings for centuries.
· Bats do not spread disease
· Bats do not chew cables or wood
· Bats are not blind
· Bats do not get caught in your hair
· Bats do not bring nesting material into houses
· Bats are more closely related to humans than to mice
o Pregnant females gather in maternity roosts to have their babies in summer, and this is the time they are most likely to be seen using buildings. Mother bats have only one baby a year, suckling it for several weeks.
o Females from a wide catchment area come together and give birth in these roosts. Disturbance, or the use of chemicals at such roosts, can have a knock on impact on bat populations for miles around.
o The bats disperse from the summer roost as the young begin to fly and feed themselves; all the bats will usually have departed by the end of September.
o Bats do occasionally roost in houses in winter, but as they hibernate and are normally in small numbers, they are difficult to see.
How do I know if I have bats?
Bat droppings will accumulate under areas regularly used by bats. These can be easily distinguished from mouse droppings. Bat droppings are dark brown or black, 4-8 mm long and, as they are made up of insect fragments, will crumble to powder when pressed. Bat droppings make great compost!
Living with bats
Here are some ideas for ensuring happy co-habitation with your bats:
* Ensure that your water tank is covered.
* Place a polythene sheet on the attic floor where bat droppings regularly accumulate and gather up at the end of the season. Bat droppings are dry and easily swept up. They make great compost!
* Ensure that the attic door is not left open to prevent bats flying into the living space of the building.
Bats will only enter your living space accidentally. Common reasons are that bats mistake an open window for a roost entrance, or follow an insect through an open window. In some instances young bats exploring their roost will squeeze down through cracks around piping from an attic.
Bats and the Law
Because populations of most species have declined in past decades, all bats have been protected by Irish law since 1976. Bats and their roosts are also protected by European law.