August 4, 2021 – Historic Building to be Renovated in Downtown Clay Center. First Step – Evict the Bats!
When Jeremy Glavan of Glavan Auto Group purchased the Old Ford Store building in downtown Clay Center, he didn’t think there would be hundreds of occupants already living in the upstairs apartments. A roost of bats moved in while the building was vacant, leaving up to 8 inches of bat guano on the floor!
“We purchased the building sight unseen; when entering the stairs to the top floor I started to smell the ammonia smell, then I saw it. My initial thought, HOLY GUANO!” said Glavan, “Currently the building homes the Happy Hippie Yoga, Health Food, and Massage Studio on the main floor, we planned on renovating the upstairs to become the Future Home of the Glavan Auto Group. The first step, evict the bats and clean up the mess.”
Cleaning up bat guano and excluding bats from a property requires special attention and can only be completed at certain times of the year. Leaving bat guano to set for long periods of time can be risky and the decision to do so should not be taken lightly.
“We knew we had to clean up the bat situation immediately. I had heard that American Pest Management, Inc. had experience with bat waste cleanup and exclusion work,” Glavan said. “Dave Gonser and his crew provide services for our personal home and our Glavan Ford of Clay Center Dealership so I thought I would have him take a look and give a recommendation.”
Upon arrival to the property, Gonser found over 25 bird and bat entry points and the guano that was collected on the top floor of the building.
“Bats are opportunistic,” says Gonser, National Wildlife Control of America Certified Bat Control Expert at American Pest Management, Inc. “They will take advantage of gaps behind concrete, slots between deck joists, cracks where gables meet roof lines, openings behind flashing, chimneys, the little bit of daylight between a light bulb and trim from recessed lighting, and really any gap that is larger than a dime! This historic building had several openings that have been created over the years.”
Bat entry points can most times be identified easily by finding guano (bat poop) or sebum (oily, waxy substance produced by sebaceous glands) left behind from the bats as they squeeze into the openings into their roost. In other occasions a night inspection with thermal imaging technology may be needed to determine entry points
Bats usually mate in late fall and into winter before hibernation; the females store the sperm and don’t become pregnant until spring. Pregnancy lasts for 6-9 weeks; babies are born May-June, and the females will normally only have 1 baby per year. Babies will suckle on their mother for 4-5 weeks before they learn to fly. During this phase it is important not to disturb the maternity roost as adults could abandon the babies in the roost. Exclusion should be delayed in June and July and start in August to prevent babies being abandoned in maternity roost.
“Bats are important to our ecological system; many don’t know that bats are pollinators and disburse seeds of plants,” says Gonser, “They are also known to eat their body weight in insects every night. It is key that we follow our exclusion policy of letting them fly until after July.”
Exclusion is the best way to prevent bats from entering your living space. Any entry point, larger than a size of a dime, should be sealed. If bats have already entered your living or workspace there are steps that can be taken to release them safely and humanely using one-way doors and sealing techniques.
With all of the good that they do, there are risks from bats as well, especially if they enter a home or place of business. Old dried-up bat guano can release histoplasmosis from the spores of fungus that grow on the droppings. Histoplasmosis can be life threatening if inhaled by a person with a weakened immune system. Rabies, although very rare, can be carried by bats. Never approach a bat without the proper protective equipment and training, especially one that has been found active during the day. Rabies is not identifiable by visual inspection of the bat; the bat will have to be tested for a positive identification of the disease.
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