Halloween series: the problem with poltergeists is…they aren’t always to blame.
With Halloween fast approaching, it is easy to get caught up in the horror of it all. But sometimes the things that go bump in the night aren’t as sinister as you might think – and it’s unfair to blame everything on poltergeists.
Peculiar noises in your loft space can leave you unsettled but if you’re feeling daring, you might want to take a closer look. September to November is mating season for bats in the UK. During this time, bats will start to seek a suitable habitat for hibernation during the winter – and this could mean your loft.
Thousands of households across the UK are known to have bat colonies roosting in their loft spaces. You don’t choose bats, bats choose you; you often won’t get a choice in the matter, but as soon as they begin to roost in your house, you officially become a ‘bat roost owner’. Bats can enter your property through holes as small as a two pence piece – and even holes this small can have your home haemorrhaging heat and therefore money. So, what can you do if bats decide to build a roost in your loft space?
Bats are a protected species in the UK and it is illegal to capture them, kill them or deliberately disturb a roost. The Bat Conservation Trust explains, “As their natural habitats have been lost, bats have adapted to roost in houses. Like barn owls some bat species now rely on buildings for shelter.” But it is important to remember that bats will usually only produce one offspring a year, so you are unlikely to be ‘infested’ and, compared to squirrels and rodents, they do not cause a significant disturbance to building fabric.
If bats are entering your property through a hole in the roof, but you already have loft insulation installed, this should ensure you aren’t losing excess heat from the habitable rooms in your house. However, if you do not have loft insulation installed, it is advised that you contact the National Bat Helpline or your Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO) for advice on how to carry out work on your home without disturbing an existing roost. This is particularly important if you intend to carry out any major work to your loft or roof space in the future. Where needed, a trained professional will inspect your property and suggest the best approach, for instance:
• Bat relocation – carried out by a professional
• Bat exclusion – attaching exclusion devices to their entrances meaning they can leave but not return. Once all the bats are gone, you can then seal up their points of entry.
More often than not, however, you will require a licence to carry out any work on or around a bat roost – and prices can be scarily high!
This in mind, the question you really need to answer is: how disruptive are they to you?
If the answer to this is not very or not at all, you might be best waiting for the colony to leave naturally when they come out of hibernation. You can then take measures to ensure they cannot enter your property again. They might return the following year, but by that time you will be well prepared to:
a. Keep bats out
b. Keep heat in
c. Keep your energy bills down
For more information on bats and the law surrounding them, visit the Bat Conservation Trust’s website.
Just remember, they’re far from the blood sucking, rabies ridden rodents they’re often made out to be. And at least they’re not a poltergeist.
We’ll be back tomorrow for a spooktacular Halloween round up!