What to do if you find bats in your home

It is legal to remove a bat from the living area of your home, but illegal to remove a bat from a loft or an outbuilding.

Finding a bat in your property

If the bat has flown into your house and is capable of flying, then open external windows or doors and turn off bright lights. It should be able to fly out again unless it is a baby bat or is injured.

If the bat does have injuries, or has been brought in by a cat, it may not be able to fly. You may need to contact a local bat carer via the Bat Conservation Trust or take the bat to a local vet. You can also call the National Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228.

A fully-grown adult bat is very small - roughly the size of a small matchbox. Baby bats are born between May to August, outside this time any bat you find will be an adult.

If you find a baby bat you should get advice from your local Bat Group or the Bat Conservation Trust. They will be able to offer advice on how to return it to the roost to give it the best chance of surviving.

If you find more than one bat, it’s likely that there is a roost in the house and that the young are getting lost by mistake. You should seek advice from your local bat group or contact us for help.

Finding a bat during building work

If you find a bat while building work is going on you must stop work and contact us for advice.

Advice for householders about building work and bats

Having bats in your property does not prevent you from carrying out renovation or building work.

Minor works and repairs

Minor works such as fitting loft insulation, timber treatment and replacing guttering can disturb bats. These works can also damage their roost site or block access to the roost. Depending on the work and the type of roost, you may be able to time the work to avoid damaging the roost or disturbing bats.

If the work will disturb bats or damage the roost site, you should contact us before starting work. We can offer advice to householders for minor works and can help with applying for a licence if you need one.

Major building works and development

If you are planning major works at your property such as re-roofing, loft conversions, or extensions you should seek advice early. If you know that you have a bat roost, you will need to get the advice of a professional ecologist on the design and timing of works.

If the works need planning permission, the local planning authority may ask for a bat survey. The bat survey must be carried out before they will consider your application.

A professional ecologist will need to carry out a bat survey during the bats’ active season, between May and September. It is advisable to discuss your proposals with your ecologist before you start detailed plans.

Report a bat roost

All bat species are protected by law but there is no obligation to report a bat roost, unless you are planning to do works that will affect them.

We do encourage people to send details of wildlife sightings to their Local Record Centre.

The number of bats at my home is increasing

You are most likely to notice bats at your home in early summer. This is when the female bats gather in maternity roosts to give birth. Each mother has one young per year. They do not breed like mice. Colonies start to disperse once the young can fly, usually sometime after mid-August. Bats are faithful to their roost sites and often return to the same roost at the same time each year.

Bats rarely cause damage to property

In a bat roost, bats tuck themselves away in small crevices or hang from roof timbers. They do not build nests or bring in any nesting material. They eat only insects caught in flight and do not chew or nibble wire, insulation or wood.

If a large colony of bats are roosting in a confined area roof space where there is no ventilation, droppings may accumulate and cause a smell. Normally bats do not cause any problems and householders are often unaware that they are there.

What you can do if you don't want bats in your home

We can advise householders what to do if they experience any problems caused by bats. In a few cases it is necessary to exclude the bats from your home, but it is not possible to move a colony of bats or take them away. Bats are excluded by waiting until they have left of their own accord and then preventing their return the following year.

You must contact us for advice before any action to exclude bats is taken. Failure to do so may result in offences being committed and bats being harmed.

Bats and disease

Some bats in the UK carry a rabies-like virus. Bats rarely come into direct contact with people so there is no risk if you do not handle bats. It is not spread through urine or faeces. You should wear gloves if you need to pick up a bat to move it. If you are bitten or scratched by a bat, you should wash the area with soap and running water for at least five minutes and seek immediate medical advice.

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