How to Get a Bat Out of Your House (and Prevent a Return Visit)

A bat with brown fur clings to a piece of white fabric with its wings

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If a bat has found its way into your home, it can make for a surprising and unwelcome house guest. Luckily, there are ways to remove a bat from your house safely and humanely. You can do it yourself, but it's important to stay calm and make sure you have the right protective gear. Here is a step-by-step guide to get a bat out of the house, and prevent another bat from finding its way inside again.

How to Get a Bat Out of the House

A brown bat hangs upside down on a paneled wood door
alexfan32 / Shutterstock

Since most bats are accidental visitors, it's often easier to coax them back outside than you might think.

Clear the Room

Start by removing any children or pets from the room to keep them safe and minimize distractions. Close all interior doors that could lead the bat farther into the house.

Encourage an Exit

When the room is clear and quiet, make it as easy as possible for the bat to fly outside on its own. Open any windows or doors leading outside as wide as possible. Turn off any outside lights near the exits. Dimming the lights inside can calm the bat down as well, but don't turn them off if it will cause you to lose sight of the bat. Wait quietly for the bat to find its way back outside.

If you think the bat has made its exit, double check in high spaces, such as in curtain folds or behind wall decorations. If a bat is injured, it might be hiding near the ground, as well.

Catching Stationary Bats

While many bats will find an exit on their own, some bats aren't so lucky. As a bat becomes fatigued, it will often perch on a wall, curtain, or another high place in the room. If the bat has stopped flying and seems unlikely to find a way outside on its own, catching it humanely and moving it outside is the best course of action. To do this, you'll need some supplies:

  • A pair of leather gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and pants
  • A broom
  • A shoebox or similarly sized plastic container (or a towel)
  • A piece of cardboard or stiff paper

Put on your long-sleeved shirt, pants, and gloves before approaching the bat—you want to cover as much exposed skin as possible to avoid close contact with the bat.

First, attempt to coax the bat onto the broom by gently placing the handle of the broom above the bat. Often, the bat will instinctively cling to the broom handle, allowing you to navigate it outdoors, where you can set the broom down and allow the bat to leave on its own.

An alternative method is to trap a stationary bat using a cardboard or plastic box. When the bat is still, cover it with the box. Slide the cardboard under it to contain the bat in the box. One final alternative is to cover the bat with a towel. Gently scoop it up and gather the towel into a bag. Release the bat outdoors. Bats cannot take flight from the ground, so tilt the container and let the bat fall into flight or release the bat next to a tree trunk it can climb.

Warning

Never try to catch a flying bat. Doing so could injure the bat, or it could bite you in self-defense. Instead, encourage the bat to leave on its own or wait until it lands to catch it.

Call in the Experts

If you have tried the previous steps without success, or don't feel confident approaching the bat yourself, contacting an animal control specialist is always an option. If a bat is difficult to catch or is injured, this is also the safest choice. Experts will be able to remove the bat safely, humanely, and efficiently.

If anyone in your home has been bitten by the bat, do not release it outside. The bite victim should seek immediate medical attention, and the bat should be tested for rabies, even though most bats do not carry the disease. Call your local animal control office for more information. Bats have very tiny, sharp teeth; you may not even realize that you've been bitten.

Preventing Future Bats in the House

A bat roosts in a white plastic eave on the exterior of a house
Bearerofthecup / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Once the bat is out of your house, it's worth considering how it got inside in the first place. Most of the time, bats end up in your home accidentally. They may chase an insect through an open window, or they may get confused while finding their way in the dark. If one is resting on the outside of your house and gets startled, the bat may dart in through an opening leading indoors. Bats can also fall down chimneys without a cap screen at the top.

Here are some simple steps to take to bat-proof your house:

  • Use caulk to fill in any openings larger than a quarter inch by half inch.
  • Install window screens, chimney cap guards, and draft guards beneath doors.
  • Ensure all doors close tightly, especially in the attic.
  • Use plastic sheeting or mesh to cover outdoor entry points. These allow bats to exit but prevent re-entry.

Evicting a Roost

Two bats hang upside down from a joist in an attic
Dr Morley Read / Shutterstock

Some species of bats, such as the little brown bat and big brown bat, tend to roost in houses. They can enter through loose-fitting doors, windows, and utility vents, or other small openings or narrow gaps high up on your home. They can fit through holes as small as half an inch wide.

The time of year can dictate whether it's appropriate to remove bats. Some bats are protected species, so many states prohibit evicting them from May to August, when they are raising their young. Contact your state wildlife agency to see when it's safe to evict a roost from your home.

Purchasing or building a bat box for your yard is one way to support bat populations while also encouraging them not to roost in your house. Bat houses have specific design criteria, like an open bottom and narrow living quarters, but they are easy to make yourself with basic tools. If you choose to buy one, make sure it is at least 24 inches tall and 16 inches wide, and constructed of wood, not fabric or mesh.