Bats found in PMA Building, goes viral on social media

Maya Wray

A colony of bats has been living inside the Physics, Math and Astronomy building for at least the past two weeks, according to a video students have shared on Reddit of bats flying inside a corridor on the eighth floor. 

Carin Peterson, senior training and outreach coordinator for UT Environmental Health and Safety, said the bats are believed to have entered through a bank of windows on the eighth floor. Environmental Health and Safety has partnered with a contractor to safely and humanely remove them from the building.

Peterson said she did not know how long the bats had lived in the building, and that estimating the number of bats would be difficult. 

“We resolve issues in a way that is beneficial to both wildlife and the UT population,” Peterson said.

The contractor will remove the bats using an “exclusion” process in which they seal off  entryways, forcing the bats to naturally exit the building, Peterson said. The process will take approximately a week, she said.

The building’s eighth floor has been mostly closed, and signs have been strategically placed in the area to alert students and faculty, said Nena Anderson, assistant director of environmental programs for UT Environmental Health and Safety. 

Merlin Tuttle, a research affiliate in the Department of Integrative Biology, said there are strong odds the bats are Brazilian free-tailed bats, the same species that inhabit the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin. 

“There are more of them in Austin than there are people,” Tuttle said. “Just don’t try to pick them up and handle them.”

Mina Hadzidedic, an honors chemical engineering freshman, made a TikTok from a video of the bats found on Reddit and captioned it, “Things at UT Austin that just make sense.” The TikTok has garnered over 368,000 views as of Sunday.

Hadzidedic said she only saw the bats via video until she attended a calculus class in PMA, where she saw them in person.

“It seemed like a Halloween prank or something,” Hadzidedic said. “I didn’t see as many (bats) as I did in the video, but there were a lot.”

In the meantime, Peterson said students are advised not to approach any bat seen inside. Instead, they may call EHS’ 24-hour line at 512-471-2287 to report a sighting. 

“We’re available 24/7,” Peterson said. “Call us. That’s what we’re here for.”

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that information about the partial closure of the building’s eighth floor and signs to alert students and faculty was provided by Nena Anderson, assistant director of environmental programs for UT Environmental Health and Safety, not Veronica Trevino, media manager of Financial and Administrative Services Communications.