Many homeowners and tenants share their property with bats without being alerted to their presence. In fact, sometimes bat workers find previously undetected roosts which have been around for decades! However, if you think you might have bats in your property, there are some things you can look out for to find out.
What is a bat roost?
A roost is any place a bat uses for shelter or protection; the numbers and species of the bats does not matter, nor does the length of use. While bats sometimes use a roost for only part of the year, they are often very loyal to these roosts and will return each year at the same time, therefore roosts protected all year round whether bats are there or not.
Bats do not build nests, or cause damage in order to roost in our buildings. Instead, they will use structures that are already available and can take advantage of the cracks and cervices our buildings often have. Bats need different roosting conditions at different times of the year and they will often move around to find a roost that meets their needs.
How to identify a bat roost
You must take great care when seeking to identify a bat roost because it is important not to disturb the bats when in their roost. When bats are hibernating, they are very vulnerable to disturbance. If you wake the bats up, they will use up valuable energy stores and may starve before spring. In the maternity season which takes place over summer, you should be extra careful not to disturb mother bats with their pups. Bats typically only have one baby per year, and disturbing the mothers can lead them to abandon their young.
Things you can look for:
- Droppings - click here to learn more
- Look for bats emerging or re-entering - During summer months (May-September) you should be able to see bats more frequently. If you think you can spot possible access points (see the image below) on the building, you can observe them when bats may be emerging for the night. This is usually around sunset, or sometimes just before, to an hour or so afterwards. If you don't know where bats may be accessing the building, you can instead perform a re-entry survey at dawn - if you see bats flying nearby you can then try to identify whether they are entering the building.
- Local records - Local bat groups sometimes keep local records of bats, and it may be that they know of a roost in the area. Some might even be able to help you identify a possible roost. You could also try your local records centre. However please note that just because there is no previous record of being at a property, does not mean there is not a roost there
If you think you have identified a bat roost in your property, there is no need to concerned. We have plenty of advice and support available. See 'What do I need to know about having bats?' for more information about the law, your responsibilities and how to seek support if you ever need it.