A British Columbia man has died of a rare viral rabies infection after being in contact with a bat. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Bats more common in Red Deer this year, says owner of pest control business

The owner of a Red Deer pest control company owner says he’s been receiving more phone calls about bat removals this summer than any of his five years in business.

“It’s mostly the heat,” said Nathan Patterson, owner of Blast ‘Em Pest Control.

“Bats normally roost in a central location, but there are times they can’t get back to where they normally roost, so they’ll find a place to hunker down for the day. Sometimes it’s inside, sometimes it’s in an air condition unit.”

If lights or noise are turned on in an area a bat decided to “hunker down” in, they can get scared and move around.

Patterson said there are some things people should keep in mind if they’re planning on moving a bat themselves.

“Make sure you’re gloved. Bats do carry diseases, they do carry rabies. It’s better off to be safe than sorry. You don’t know if the bat you’re dealing with is carrying rabies,” he said.

“It can be dangerous. Bats are cute and fuzzy animals, but you do have to be safe about it.”

READ MORE: Wasp population flourishing in Central Alberta during hot, dry summer

Bats are useful when it comes to removing insects, Patterson explained.

“Bats are our friends. They eat their body weight in mosquitos and other insects in a night. If you see a bat, don’t kill them – move them. If people need help they can always call (a professional),” he said.

Bats are naturally shy of humans, according to the provincial government’s website – their natural aversion combined with their “excellent navigation system” means they are unlikely to dive at people, get tangled in long hair or attack pets.

“Bats are an important component of our ecosystem and are beneficial to people. As insectivores, bats feed heavily on moths, flies and mosquitoes and consume forest and farm pests. In fact, a single little brown bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes in one hour,” the Government of Alberta website states.

Bats with the rabies virus will “behave unusually,” the provincial government warns.

“Be extremely wary of bats that are active in the day or that seem unable to fly – they could be injured, sick or a young bat learning to fly. Although very few bats in Alberta have rabies, it is always best to be cautious.”

The government offers the following tips for getting a bat off your property:

  • If a bat is sleeping on the outside of a building, leave it alone. It will fly away by nightfall when it wakes up to feed;
  • Bats that accidentally get inside the house will most likely find their way out if you leave a window or door open;
  • A sleeping bat can also be captured by covering it with a large, empty coffee can and gently sliding a piece of cardboard between the can and the surface the bat is sleeping on. Take the can outside and let the bat fly away.

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