Managing droppings and urine
All UK bats feed on insects, so their droppings are made up of dried insect remains. Therefore, there is generally nothing to worry about if droppings are present at your property as they don't cause damage when dry and health risks are extremely rare.
Most commonly bat droppings accumulate underneath the roost, and below the points bats use to access a building or a roosting area. Sometimes, bat droppings can be a nuisance and cause concern particularly if the roof space is used for storage or droppings are collecting on windows, patios, cars or doorsteps. However, an accumulation of droppings is only likely to occur for a few weeks in the summer when the bats are most active, after which they usually leave to go to other sites for the winter.
If you have concerns about droppings that are accumulating, there are things that can be done to help.
Bat droppings in the attic
If the droppings are accessible, a layer of paper (e.g. newspaper or brown wrapping paper) or cloth sheeting (e.g. dust sheets) can be spread under the bats favourite roosting sites i.e. where droppings accumulate. This is a cheap and easy method of protection. Laying down and removing the paper/sheeting should be carried out when bats are absent from the roost (usually between September – April). Laying down a protective layer is a cheap and easy method of keeping items stored in the attic and your attic floor clean, it also makes it easier to clear away the droppings when the bats have left for the summer. You can simply roll up the paper/sheeting and then place the droppings in the bin or add to your compost - bat droppings make a good fertiliser so can be added to the garden!
Plastic sheeting should be avoided where there is a risk of condensation as this can make the droppings damp.
On extremely rare occasions there are health risks from allergic reactions and dust inhalation (e.g. if cleaning up very large quantities of droppings). Therefore we always suggest maintaining basic standards of hygiene by wearing a dust mask and washing your hands after handling any droppings.
If you cannot clean up the droppings yourself, you might consider asking a friend or relative for help. Alternatively, you may wish to hire a cleaner or similar contractor. Provided that the droppings are cleaned when the bats are absent (usually between September – April), the person cleaning the droppings will not require a licence or specialist bat knowledge.
We also advise that you cover any containers in the loft or store them upside down and cover any water tanks fully, ensuring that any lids are securely fitted.
Bat droppings outdoors
If droppings are accumulating in an area where laying down sheeting is not appropriate, e.g. patios there are a few practical solutions you can try. If the droppings are on the exterior of the property, they can be swept away and disposed of either in the bin or added to your compost or flower beds (bat droppings make a good fertiliser). Another alternative is to place flower pots directly below the bat access point to collect the droppings and stop them falling directly on the ground and becoming dispersed.
If you find your situation unmanageable, or there is no easy way to prevent droppings accumulating in an inconvenient place, please find further advice under 'What to do if the issue persists'.
Bat droppings in an inaccessible area?
If you find the droppings are in an inaccessible area, please find further advice under 'What to do if the issue persists'.
Bat urine is very unlikely to cause issues in properties such as dwellings, as typically the amount of urine produced by bats is negligible, even in the summer months when bats are active. However, there are some occasions where a build-up of urine can occur if the roost is large or awkwardly situated. If this is the case you may need personalised advice.
The main concern with bat urine does not relate to human health but the fact it contains high concentrations of uric acid which can corrode metal. Bat urine also causes etching of polished surfaces and staining of light-coloured fabric and porous stone such as marble and alabaster. If you are experiencing issues with urine staining or damage in a place of worship please find further guidance here.
This advice provided by the National Bat Helpline is only possible thanks to the generosity of people like you. Our vital advice service helps thousands of people by providing advice for free, this in turn saves thousands of bats every year. Partial funding from Natural England helps cover some of our running costs, but it does not cover everything. Your donation will help ensure our small team can continue to provide assistance and a lifeline for bats.