‘It was a real nightmare:’ Savannah residents dealing with bat infestations

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 10:14 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - People who live in Savannah’s Victorian District say some homes in the area are plagued with bats.

This comes just days after a bat tested positive for rabies near Forsyth Park.

Dana Hurlbut had lived in her Lincoln Street home for just weeks when she discovered she had a few hundred unwanted guests.

“I go upstairs and I hear the unmistakable sound of bats in the attic...a lot of bats,” said Hurlbut.

She says an estimated 500 bats had gotten into her attic last summer entering through tiny cracks in her roof.

“You could see their waste products were seeping through the drywall. I was afraid my ceiling was going to collapse.”

Hurlbut isn’t alone. Disa and Bob Ciambra live just a block away.

They captured a video of a bat flying in their home.

“It was going really fast. It was going from room to room. I kind of freaked out,” said Disa Ciambra.

Several neighbors in the area say they’ve experienced or are currently dealing with bat infestations.

“I can actually walk around the neighborhood and smell which houses have a bat problem,” said Hulburt.

After a bat in the area tested positive for rabies last week, the health department says there’s a low chance an animal is carrying the virus but that historic homes make it comfortable for bats to live.

“The historic buildings have interesting architecture and they make nice, warm, cozy, little places for bats to make nests in a home in,” said Beth Grubbs, an environmental health specialist.

While environmental officials say bats are easy to find in Chatham County, getting rid of them can be challenging.

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, bats can’t be removed from April 1st to July 31st to avoid trapping young ones that can’t fly yet.

A slow and costly fix for Hurlbut.

“I just had to live with them. Excluding them and then having a remediation company come and fix it all up, it was five figures. Insurance did not cover it, it usually doesn’t. It was a real nightmare,” said Hulburt.

Now, in the wake of the positive rabies test, Hurlbut is rethinking her bat prevention measures...hoping to avoid another infestation.

“Even though it’s not in the budget, maybe I should be looking into replacing this roof right now because the last thing I need is for it to happen again, but with bats with rabies.”

If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact Chatham County Animal Services at 912-652-6575 and the Chatham County Environmental Health office at 912-356-2160.