Hundreds of bats flew out from a building's roof tiles in downtown St. Augustine

Bats swarmed the nation's oldest city Tuesday night.

People living and working in the area will have to get used to the winged animals, at least for now.

It’s bat season until Aug. 15, and in order to remove them you need a permit from the state.

There are some benefits to having them around, a local animal trapper said one bat can eat up to 100 mosquitoes in an hour.

In cellphone video that was sent to Action News Jax, dozens of bats are seen spilling from a roof in downtown St. Augustine and swooping over people’s heads.

Action News Jax reporter Danielle Avitable went to the same building to see it for herself.

At dusk, hundreds of bats started flying out from the roof tiles.

People gathered around to take pictures and videos of the bats.

Earlier in the day Action News Jax went around and showed people the cellphone video of the bats.

“I think it’s pretty cool. They eat bugs, yay,” a tourist said.

“That is kind of gross. I’m terrified that they would bite me,” another tourist, Cherie Davison said.

Most people thought it was concerning because of the amount of people who visit the area.

“Concern about what is happening in a public place that is pretty close to people and kids,” tourist, Wolfgang Majia, said.

Kyle Waltz with First Coast Wildlife Services said it’s best for people to keep their distance when bats are flying in the area.

“You don’t want to get bit by a bat -- they can carry rabies,” Waltz said.

Right now, it’s bat season and Waltz said they get about five calls a day regarding bat removal as opposed to one a week during other times of the year, but they are federally protected.

“If you do have bats, legally we cannot remove them without a permit from Florida Fish and Wildlife,” Waltz said.

He also said that it’s common for bats to live in older buildings, especially ones with a tile roof that has cracks and crevices.

The people who are renting the building said that someone is coming out Wednesday morning to see how to get rid of the bats.

The city manager said there isn’t any direct city code in relation to bats and that they turn it over to the health department.

Action News Jax reached out to the health department and was told there is a concern with rabies.