By CHERYL RODEWIGJune 20, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. (June 20, 2012) -- When it comes to bats inside a house, taking prompt action is key. For residents on post, that means calling the maintenance request line at 706-685-3929.
"If they have any concerns or they see bats leaving the rooflines of their home at dusk, they can call us," said Amanda Weeks, community director for The Villages of Benning. "If they hear something in their walls, it could be a squirrel; it could be a bat; it could be anything. As with any wildlife concerns, they can call us if they suspect anything at all. We'll come out and take a look at it."
Like most mammals, bats are more active in warmer months, especially spring and summer, said Jonathan Neufeldt, wildlife biologist with the Environmental Management Division, Directorate of Public Works.
The species tend to roost in caves and other shelters and can mistake a house for a good place to live. Neufeldt said bats can infest houses anywhere, but dwellings close to woods and water may have a higher bat population in their area.
"Usually bats will make their way into a house because there's an opening they can get into at night," he said. "One of the best ways to keep bats from getting into the house is to cover that opening with screening or mesh. You can allow the air to circulate, but it keeps the bats from being able to get into the attic."
Villages of Benning residents don't need to do this themselves.
If a customer calls about bats in a home, maintenance will inspect the house and take any necessary precautions to keep bats from returning, Weeks said.
Bats are a protected species, so they won't be killed or harmed in the removal process, Neufeldt said. A common bat exclusion device, he said, is a one-way flap that allows the animals to exit but not to re-enter.
The homes most predisposed to infestation may be the residences in the East Main Post housing area and the historic homes because of the shape of the roofs, but Weeks said bats have not been a significant problem of late.
"We haven't had any major bat infestations recently," she said. "Any homes that have been found to have bats have been treated and are under preventative care. As long as we get to them fairly quickly, they generally don't cause a major problem. If we get to the problem early, it's usually minor repairs and a simple fix."
Residents who submit a work order can expect a response from maintenance within 48 hours. The maintenance line is answered by a live person 24/7.
Meanwhile, whether near housing or in the wild, Neufeldt offered some tips on how to interact with bats.
"Don't," he said, "even if they're docile. There's always the potential for rabies. Don't touch them. Be aware that they're just as afraid of you as you are of them."
Neufeldt said parents should warn their kids not to touch any wild animal they may come across and to report to an adult if they see something.
"Even if a bat doesn't have rabies, bacteria could be transmitted from a bite," he said. "Puncture wounds from the canine teeth are harder to sanitize, so infections can occur more easily."
Outside of housing, bat concerns -- such as a bat flying erratically, which may be a sign of rabies -- should be directed to the military police by calling 706-545-5223 or 706-545-5224.