April 15 marks start of Florida’s bat maternity season
If you have bats roosting in your attic, eaves or chimney spaces, now is the time to give them an eviction notice. Bat maternity season begins April 15 and runs through August 15. Exclusions of bat colonies must be completed before the season starts.
“During bat maternity season, bats gather to give birth and raise their young,” said Terry Doonan, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologist and mammal conservation coordinator. “The season lasts until the young bats can fly and feed themselves. In Florida, this occurs from mid-April through mid-August for most bat species.”
Bat exclusions are illegal during this maternity season to prevent young bats that cannot yet fly from being trapped inside structures and dying.
Florida is home to 13 resident bat species, including threatened species such as the Florida bonneted bat. Some bat species roost in artificial structures, including buildings and houses. Although it is illegal to harm or kill bats in Florida, guidelines have been developed allowing for the legal exclusion of bats outside of the maternity season.
Exclusion guidelines on how to remove bats from buildings can be found at MyFWC.com/Bats. Materials and methods to exclude bats can affect the success of that process. For more information on how to conduct a bat exclusion, watch this YouTube video: How to Get Bats Out of a Building. Further details on how to conduct a legal bat exclusion can be found at Bat Conservation International.
Bats are beneficial to people and are an important part of the ecosystem. The state’s native bats help keep insect populations under control, with the average bat eating hundreds of insects a night. In addition to the benefit of keeping mosquitoes and other insects at bay for residents enjoying the outdoors, the value of insect suppression by bats to U.S. agriculture has been estimated to be in the billions of dollars.
There are several ways that Florida residents and visitors can help bats:
- Preserve natural roost sites, including trees with cavities and peeling bark. Dead fronds left on palms can also provide roosting spots for bats.
- Put up a bat house.
- Report unusual bat behavior to: MyFWC.com/BatMortality.
Bats can carry rabies. Although infected bats may not become aggressive, like any other wild animal, they can bite to defend themselves if handled. Don’t touch or go near any wild animal, especially one that’s not acting normally. For more information about rabies, visit the Florida Department of Health website at FloridaHealth.gov.
FWC staff are working to learn more and share information about Florida’s bats. For more information on Florida’s bats, go to MyFWC.com/Bats. If you need assistance, contact your closest FWC Regional Office to speak with a regional wildlife assistance biologist for more information.