While the fans of the popular Twilight series seem to be growing in numbers, so too are the real-life bats roosting in roofs, attics, and walls throughout Ontario and Quebec.
And the problems for homeowners are no fantasy.
This summer’s hot and humid weather in Southern Ontario and Quebec provide the right conditions for bats to come into contact with people, and the consequences can be deadly.
"People have this amazing fascination with bats," noted Humane Wildlife Control president Bill Dowd.
"But the interest quickly turns to fear and misinformation when people find a bat flying around their bedroom," he said.
Bats are the most common carriers of rabies, and health departments advise people to seek medical attention if they come into direct contact with a bat or are bitten or scratched. Especially when children are concerned, the health departments will provide rabies shots in order to prevent the deadly disease from taking hold. Rabies is usually not detected until it is too late, so precaution and prevention are critical.
The size of the small creatures means that bat bites can often go undetected and they can become defensive if cornered, so homeowners are not advised to try and capture or remove the animals themselves.
And because they can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime, bat colonies can easily thrive in a relatively warm and dry habitat like an attic, roof, or wall cavity. "We’ve found colonies in the hundreds and the homeowners had no idea," said Dowd.
Bats can cause significant property damage and other diseases
Droppings (guano) and dead bats can cause severe odour, damage and contamination of structures and heating and air conditioning systems.
Bats are common carriers of bed bugs, which multiply and look for other hosts, such as pets and people, when they roost in buildings. They are extremely difficult to eradicate and bites can cause serious itching and welts.
If inhaled by humans, bat guano can cause an incurable respiratory disease called histoplasmosis. The very young, very old and those with impaired immune systems are at greatest risk for severe illness.
Early detection and removal are keys to minimizing problems.
Brown bats are very difficult to detect and should be removed before temperatures get colder or they will go dormant for the winter and proper sealing will ensure they do not return.
Bats feed on a 24 to 48 hour cycle. Plugging a hole after they leave at night may seal half the colony in and cause building damage, disease, and human contact.
Humane Wildlife Control uses humane methods to remove bats. Professional operators guarantee their work – both the removal of the bat and making sure they don’t gain access – and do not kill the bats.