The extremely cold and snowy winter has been driving homeowners in Windsor, Ont., batty.

Shane Pearson of All Things Wild, a pest control company, says he’s responded to a record number of bat calls because the creatures have been seeking warmth and shelter from the cold this winter.

“A lot of people think they’ve come from outside but they don’t realize they’ve been roosting in their attics or their walls,” Pearson said. “We’ve got calls about them flying around living spaces.”

Pearson said the periodic extremely cold days have jolted hibernating bats awake. Once they realize it’s still winter and incredibly colder than normal, they seek a warmer place to hibernate.

“So, they follow the warmth into the living space,” Pearson said.

He said a bat only needs an opening one centimetre in diameter to access a house or room.

So far this winter, Pearson has responded to 12 bat calls.

“If there is a bat found flying in your house during the winter, we recommend a full inspection of the house and the attic to see if there is a colony. Because where there’s one, there’s more,” Pearson said.

Pearson said if a home owner does encounter a bat, they should close the door to the room, seal the crack beneath the door and call a professional.

“Don’t release a bat into this cold weather. They’ll die within minutes,” he said.

Pearson takes bats he captures to the Wings Rehabilitation Centre, an animal shelter in Amherstburg, southwest of Windsor.

“We’ll get the odd one, but we’re up to eight of them now,” Nancy Phillips of Wings said of bats. “We were getting two or three a day.

“Everything we have now can’t be released until the spring.”

Pearson isn’t just responding to bat calls. He’s made more than 60 house calls this winter. He typically makes 25.

“This is usually the down time. It’s busy enough to keep me going non-stop throughout the wintertime,” Pearson said.

He said he’s found squirrels — in chimneys and running through houses — and racoons in attics.

Pearson said trees are barren, food is scarce and the temperatures are too cold for squirrels.

“This winter, because of the cold weather and drop in temperature, has caused a lot of animals to seek shelter inside people’s homes,” Pearson said. “This year has been a lot busier than it has been before, because of the cold temperatures.”