Who you Gonna Call – Batman?
Last week we published a story about bats and the fact that their roosts are legally protected. Destroying a bats’ roost can lead to stringent fines of £5,000 per bat or even result in a six-month prison sentence. Bats often roost in attics here in the UK as they prefer the dark cave-like conditions which, to bats, represent the perfect place to roost, mate and raise their baby bats. When it comes to checking the attic for signs of bat habitation, there are plenty of clues to look out for, including:
- Noises – whilst you won’t be able to hear the sound of bats chirping (it’s higher than our ears are able to detect), you may hear the sound of flapping wings or scratching on the roof and walls of the attic.
- Guano – this is “poo” – bat poo is usually black or dark brown, dry and oval shaped – about the size of rice grains or mouse droppings. Bats like to poo in the same place, so look out for piles of guano near the points of entry in your attic (points of entry for bats, not near the hatch which is a point of entry for people). Guano is pretty strong smelling and, if not removed, can cause mould, fungus and even infestations of insects so make sure it gets cleared up regularly.
- Stains on Walls – be on the lookout for brown stains which is the oil that comes from the skin of bats and rubs off on walls. Pay particular attention to brown stains around small holes and crevices as bats, like mice, can squeeze through the tiniest of spaces to gain entry.
- Flight – if you suspect bats in the attic, then spend some time outdoors at dusk, looking upwards. As the sky darkens, you should be able to see any bats silently flitting around your premises. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you may even see the bats as they fly out of the attic to begin their nightly hunt for food.
If, as a roofing contractor, you’re required to work on a property that is known to contain a bat roost, or if you discover one as work commences, you must immediately stop work and contact an ecological consultant who will carry out a survey and provide a method statement for you (as the person proposing the work). The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management has a list of consultants in the UK.
The Bat Conservation Trust is an organisation that provides help and advice on bats for homeowners and industry professionals. When it comes to building work, planning and development, and building maintenance, the Bat Conservation Trust is the best place to go for advice.
Next week, we’ll have more information on bats with some advice that is specifically designed for those who work in construction, particularly in roofing. Don’t miss out on the information you need, follow us on Facebook or Twitter so you know when the article has been published.