Central Iowa’s self-proclaimed “bat man” is taking a deep breath as his busy season comes to an end. The last two weeks of August and first half of September are breeding season for bats, and during that period he gets a couple dozen calls a day. Jim Kelley explains bats have been mating, and seeking out new homes in the houses of disturbed customers who call him. He says there are between 9 and 11 species of bats in Iowa, and they live in every town and city. All mammals carry rabies, he says, and despite advice to kill any bat found in a home and have it checked for rabies, he thinks the disease is rare enough that people should consider the value of bats’ eating mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus. They have a high metabolism, and Kelley says bats have to eat about three-fourths their own weight every night in bugs. They’re especially busy eating, this time of year. He says they’ll go into hibernation within a few weeks and then, with no bugs, they’ll have to live off the body fat they’re putting on now. Kelley says to evict bats from a cozy attic, a homeowner must make sure to get them all out, and then block every opening through which they could return. His “tools of the trade” include screen and a staple gun, though Kelley says he’s had no formal training for his decade and a half in the bat business.
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