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Thousands Of Bats Have Taken Refuge At Arbor Park Apartments

Michael Harman watches out for a photo opportunity as five bats fly out of his roof at Arbor Park Apartment. (Angela Hyse/ WUFT News)

Jason Sauls and Michael Harmon watch as bats fly from their Arbor Park Apartments roof. Their neighbors join them each night as the mouse-like mammals fill the night sky.

A dense layer of  black bat pellets cover the sidewalk outside their bedrooms. The smell of guano permeating their apartment walls is unbearable.

Harmon, 27, Sauls, 30, and Jess Melgaard-Cyman, 25, moved into the complex at 309 SW 16th Ave. September 2017. They first noticed the bats in early November.

“Initially it seemed like they were flying over and around the building. We thought nothing of it at the time,” Harmon said.

Melgaard-Cyman can hear the bat’s flutters, scratching and squeaks in her bedroom, especially in the evening. She lies awake at night fearing one may crawl through the vents. She worries about toxins from the their droppings.

She first notified the front desk in late December.  By mid-January, after a series of phone calls and verbal conversations, maintenance workers confirmed they have a bat problem.

Florida Pest Control was at the property Monday afternoon and is using a process called “bat exclusion” to remove them from the property and seal off entry points, preventing the bats from returning.

Rafael Sabio, regional manager at the Collier Companies, which owns and operates Arbor Park Apartments, said the exclusion process should be completed by tomorrow. In the meantime, Sabio is arranging for Harmon and his roommates to move to a new property in Gainesville and picking up the tab.

“The odor you’re smelling is mostly from the bats, and it is uncomfortable, which is why I want to expedite the move, and why I am willing to pay for the moving expenses,” Sabio wrote in an email to the tenants.

About Angela Hyse

Angela Hyse is a reporter and web producer for WUFT News. She can be reached by emailing news@wuft.org or calling 352-294-6397.

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