When you think of dangerous wildlife you don’t want in your home, you probably think of disease-infested deer mice. Maybe you fear destructive squirrels or aggressive raccoons.
But the animals you should be just as equally concerned about are birds and bats.
Birds and bats are hazardous to both your health and your home. Surprised? Keep reading to learn about the health and safety risks associated with bats and birds in the home.
Perhaps the biggest risk you’ll encounter with having a bird or bat colony in your home is histoplasmosis, which is a lung disease contracted by breathing in the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. This fungus is present in bird and bat feces and can go airborne when disturbed—when you attempt to clean up or renovate your attic, for example.
Everyone in your home is at risk of contracting histoplasmosis—even your pets. For people with under-developed or weak immune systems, in particular, histoplasmosis can be deadly. This is a serious concern you should be worried about.
Another fungus found in accumulations of bird droppings, cryptococcosis is often found around nesting and roosting sites—like in your attic. Pigeons are the most likely carriers of this fungal disease.
Again, those with compromised immune systems are more at risk of serious symptoms. If left untreated, generalized cryptococcosis infections can spread to the central nervous system and become fatal. Another type of infection is cutaneous in nature and is characterized by ulcers and skin eruptions.
Commonly known as “the bird flu,” avian influenza is the H5N1 virus. It is transmitted through the feces of infected birds. The disease can not only live in the birds themselves, but in the houses they reside in as well. This disease leads to severe flu-like symptoms, including a high fever, muscle aches, and respiratory difficulties. It’s well-known for being fatal.
Salmonellosis is common with pigeons, sparrows, and starlings. Dried feces bacteria are typically sucked into vents and air conditioners, which are then blown out into your home and contaminate your cooking surfaces and foods.
Rabies is a serious consideration when it comes to bats in the attic. Bats are the primary carriers of rabies in Canada. Bats are considered a rabies-vector species; they can live long lives with the rabies virus without showing symptoms.
This is why it’s so important not to attempt bat removal on your own. Being bitten by a rabies-infected bat may be fatal.
Birds and bats come with their fair share of ectoparasites, including ticks, mites, lice, and beetles. These pests can carry diseases as well. Even when the animals are evicted from your home, these pests can remain and can be very difficult to deal with.
Your health isn’t the only thing at risk when you have birds and bats in the attic. These animals are also hazardous to your home. Birds often make their nests inside hidden areas, such as vents and chimney shoots. They use highly flammable materials to build these nests, including twigs and dried leaves. This can pose a fire hazard when you try to heat your home.
If these nests are blocking ventilation into your home, the exhaust that would typically be ventilated out would then remain in the building—and be breathed in by you and your family.
Birds and bats will also weaken the structure of their home. Their droppings contain uric acid, which is corrosive to building materials over time.
In addition, bats may chew through your wiring, insulation, and walls, further causing property damage. Chewed electrical wiring can pose yet another fire hazard.
If there are bats or birds living in your attic, get them out immediately for the health and safety of your home and family.