Bats Regular Part of Athens Wildlife

Posted on:

< < Back to

The McDavises aren’t the only residents in Athens finding bats in their house.

Jocelyn Chiu, an Ohio University senior, was relaxing in her bed one Sunday evening when she saw a bat fly across her room.

“All of the sudden I see something black just swoop down into that corner,” she said pointing across her room.

Chiu believes the bat came out of a small crack in the ceiling of her off-campus house on Lash Street in Athens. She’s seen bats flying near the lake in her hometown of Avon Lake, Ohio, but has never been that close to one.​ She says she tried to remain calm throughout the ordeal.

“I didn’t want it to come out of my room or come at me,” she said. “I didn’t want to make a lot of noise, so I kind of snuck out and then closed my door a little bit.”

Chiu and her roommates immediately called someone to get it out of their house.

Chris Prater is the owner of Prater’s Wildlife Control. He has been removing bats and other unwanted critters from homes for 15 years. He services all over the state of Ohio, but says Athens seems to have a higher bat population because of the older homes in the area and the materials they are made of.

“The houses are much more massive,” he said. “They have double brick walls with a gap in between and that’s where bats like to live – it’s that gap in between. The more mass a structure has, the more likely a bat is going to like it as a home.”

Prater explains older houses in Athens are made of brick and stone, which keeps a more consistent temperature that bats like.​ He’s seen a colony of more than 500 bats in an Athens residence.

Prater says on the unusual warm day in February is when bats wake up from their state of hibernation and find their way into people’s homes. This is the time of year when he gets busy as people start to find a bat or two in their house.

“You can get an occasional bat in your house in June form a window air conditioner being open or a door propped open,” he said. “But if you get one in February, it’s probably coming from your house.”

Bats have also been found inside Ohio University residence halls as well.

Katie Quaranta, a spokeswoman for the university, said in an email that 106 bats were removed from residence halls in the 2014. The Ohio University Environmental Health and Safety Department take care of removing the bats.

If the department is unable to locate the bat, students are offered to move to another dorm room, but Quaranta says that rarely happens.

Sophomore student Michelle Mwaura was getting ready for class one evening when she heard girls screaming outside of her door in Gamertsfelder Hall on the campus’s east green. She walked out of her room to find a bat laying right outside her door.

“I don’t know if the wing was broken, but there was just this bat laying right outside my door,” she said. “My RA comes down and she’s like ‘Why’s everyone screaming? What’s the commotion?'”

Mwaura says she snuck past the bat to go to class and when she returned it was gone. She says she’s been on the lookout for other bats ever since.

“Maybe it’s in the bathroom somewhere,” she said. “If I’m showering is it going to come out from the fan or something? That’s what I’m most worried about is coming in contact with this thing again… in the wild.”

Prater says a large colony of bats could damage the property value of homes and cause health risks. He says bats could carry rabies, but there’s a greater health risk from the fungus in their droppings called Histoplasma, especially for those with weakened immune systems.

“It can lead to upper respiratory illness, an infection and even death,”​ he said. “So having that amount of guano with the “Histo” can be detrimental to your health.”

The bat droppings also carry tiny bugs called “bat mites,” which Prater says are similar to bug mites.​

If you were to find a bat in your home, or dorm room, Prater says there are safe and easy ways to remove it.

“Throw a towel over it, pick it up and take it outside,” he said. “That’s a very common thing and the risk is quite small.”