Expert Florida Bat Removal Since 1996.
The bats present throughout Florida are most likely predominantly Mexican/Brazilian Free-tail bats [Tadarida brasiliensis]. These animals are extremely social and tend to roost in large colonies (up to 20,000 or more). They live for 30-35 years and each female typically has one offspring per year (occasionally they have twins). They are very territorial and young born on site tend to consider it their “home”. As a result, they are persistent in their attempts to return back to where they were born. Typically, we find that bats excluded from a particular building on a complex or from a particular area of a building will simply relocate to the nearest convenient aperture or structure in the vicinity.
It should be understood that bats are generally extremely shy, docile mammals. They do not carry many diseases and they do not fly into people’s hair or attack people in any way. They are extremely beneficial to the environment. In the northern hemisphere, they make-up 25% of the mammal population and in the southern hemisphere, this increases to 50%. In Florida, the micrchiroptera that make up the bat population consume billions of insects (including mosquitoes) every evening. Each bat will eat 2-3,000 insects per night. While it is true that bats can carry and transmit rabies, this risk is recognized as being limited (see below).
That said, large colonies of Free-tail bats (and others) can and do cause problems for people when the two species co-exist in the same environment. The smell from the excrement and urine and the subsequent staining on buildings and structures is a concern. In the case of large colonies, rabies should be a consideration (albeit small) and the build-up of waste products can be excessive with the attendant odor and possible health risks, the most serious of these being histoplasmosis (see below).
This is a fungal disease, from the histoplasma capsulatum fungus that is associated with bat guano (feces) deposits. Once inhaled, it grows in the lungs and can ultimately lead to a chronic respiratory condition. This is why it is always recommended for us to perform a clean-up service to remove the bat guano and also treat the area to prevent fungus from growing.
Rabies can be contracted as a result of contact between infected saliva or nervous tissues and the mucous membranes found in the eyes, nose and mouth. It can also enter the body through open wounds. However, it is almost always transmitted by a bite from the infected animal. Although a minute number of cases of airborne infection have been reported as having occurred in cave environments, none have been recorded as having occurred in man-made structures. Only a very small percentage of the bat population is thought to carry the disease.
The novel coronavirus is Zoonotic which means it comes from a group of viruses that originate or spread in animals – in this case, bats - and according to Peter Ben Embarek (a WHO expert in animal diseases that jump to humans), it is still unclear what animal may have originally transmitted the disease to humans. Studies have shown that even cats, ferrets and also dogs (albeit to a lesser extent) are susceptible to COVID-19.
The broad consensus within the international scientific community is that the virus probably arrived in humans through contact with animals raised to supply food and not from bats directly. For example, SARS-CoV, which is the coronavirus that caused the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) pandemic in 2003, is a close relative of SARS-CoV-2. It was also found to have been transmitted from bats to an intermediate host – the masked palm civet – which subsequently infected humans.
Similarly, MERS-CoV, the coronavirus that caused Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012, jumped from bats to another intermediate host, the dromedary camel, before infecting humans.
Because bats are not carriers (only hosts) of COVID-19 and play no role in the current spread of the disease directly to humans, harming bats will not save human lives and will do nothing to help protect or improve human health. Ironically, the only animals known for certain to spread Covid-19 to other humans are humans themselves.
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