Can you imagine waking up to what you think is a bird flying around in your bedroom, only to discover it’s a bat? And then to be told that your apartment wall is the home to 1000s of Mexican free-tailed bats? Well, there’s at least one woman in Texas that knows it can happen!
Nicole Standley of Houston, Texas, made the unfortunate discovery that bats had taken up residence in her apartment. She made a run for it, after being terrorized by one particularly aggressive bat, and called a bat removal company for assistance. They located the unwanted house guests and addressed the issue with the property managers who were unwilling to accept their offer of help. Not only does this expose the potential for legal and health problems down the road, but it’s also downright irresponsible. So, what can you do if you encounter bats in similar circumstances?
Steps to Take When Faced with a Bat in Your Apartment
- If possible, capture or contain the bat: Bats are known carriers of rabies, so capturing them (or containing them for capture) allows local authorities to test the bat. Informed decisions can then be made regarding necessary medical treatment. If a bat is not tested, and contact with it can not be confirmed, certain people should receive post-exposure rabies treatment as recommended by the CDC. These people include:
- Anyone who has woken up to a bat in the same room as them
- Any unattended children in a room where a bat is found
- Anyone suffering from a mental disability
- Anyone who is intoxicated
- Call your local animal control, non-emergency number, or a local bat removal company: If you don’t have the willingness and protective equipment to capture the bat yourself per the above point, call someone that can. A local bat removal company can also provide advice about follow up action needed to remove the bats.
Other Health Risks
Many people are aware of the risk of rabies in bats, but a lesser-known health risk associated with bats is histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis is one of the dangers of having large colonies living within the structure of a building. It is a disease caused by the fungus histoplasma capsulatum, often found in large amounts of bat guano (or droppings). It’s commonly contracted when guano is disturbed, and the fungal spores become airborne. The fungal spores are then inhaled by unsuspecting hosts – in this case, the tenants of the apartment building. With such a large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats found in this particular apartment complex, one can only imagine how much guano had accumulated!
Many people who breathe in the fungal spores will not get sick, but of those who do, symptoms will appear 3 to 17 days post-exposure and may include:
- Chest pain
- Body aches
In most cases, the symptoms of histoplasmosis will go away on their own within a few weeks to a month. However, for some people, particularly those with weakened immune systems, symptoms can persist and may even develop into a more severe infection. It’s all the more reason for property managers to act immediately at the first sign of a bat problem!
The Role of Property Managers
Property managers are obligated to provide a safe and habitable place for tenants to live. Organizing bat removal at an apartment building would be a rare and unexpected task to add to a property manager’s to-do list. However, as this article proves, it does happen! Tenant concerns about bats need to be addressed immediately. The issue will only continue to grow, along with the size of the bat colony. Failing to act can lead to many consequences, including:
- Increased costs to rectify the issue: As mentioned above, the longer a bat infestation problem is ignored, the more extensive it will become and the higher the expense.
- It may lead to potential legal action from tenants: Turning a blind eye to a bat problem once brought to the attention of management opens up the potential for legal action. The health and safety of tenants is at risk. After all, who is going to foot the bill for the costly post-exposure rabies treatment?
- Damage to the internal & external building structure: Bats are messy and destructive creatures. Urine and guano build-up, as well as constant entry and exit activity, causes damage to insulation, interior & exterior walls, and rooflines. The bigger the colony becomes, the bigger the damage bill gets.
- A damaged reputation: Failing to maintain an apartment complex and not living up to the expectations of tenants can only mean bad news for the reputation of the property management company.
A Guide for Both Tenants & Property Managers
We often get calls from tenants who have a bat issue, and quite often, their property manager or landlord is downplaying the seriousness of the situation. Unfortunately, we’re unable to do anything without management consent. However, we advise tenants that it is usually an issue of a lack of education about bats and the risks they pose. One of our blog posts lists the most common reasons why property management/landlords won’t fix a bat problem and how you might be able to approach it. Check it out here: https://www.getbatsout.com/what-if-your-landlord-will-not-fix-a-bat-problem/.
The best course of action for property managers is to call in a professional bat removal company at the first report of a bat. In-house maintenance teams are fantastic and can often deal with general pest control issues, but bats are not your everyday pest control problem. It takes a unique skill set and awareness of bat habits to successfully deal with this type of issue. Not only this, but the matter will be dealt with correctly the first time, eliminating possible legal or health liability issues down the track. Don’t let this situation in Texas become a reality at your apartment complex!
Your Local Bat Removal Expert,