What To Do If Youve Found a Bat

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    Do not handle the bat with your bare hands and do not attempt to rehabilitate the bat yourself. doing so could endanger your safety and the life of the bat. many states will euthanize a touched bat with bare hands

    The first concern many people have about bats is rabies. Like most mammals, bats can get rabies. however, less than one-half of one percent of bats contract the disease. furthermore, sick bats do not look for people to attack; They generally look for a secluded place to die quietly. According to the Center for Disease Control, people cannot get rabies just from seeing a bat in an attic, cave, or from a distance. Also, people cannot get rabies from contact with bat guano (feces), blood, or urine, or from touching bat fur (although bats should never be handled).

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    However, if you are bitten by a bat or get saliva in your eyes, nose, or mouth, seek medical attention immediately. whenever possible, the bat should be captured and sent to a laboratory for analysis. additionally, bats found in a room with a person who cannot reliably rule out physical contact (for example, a sleeping person, a child, a mentally disabled person, or an intoxicated person) will need to be tested for rabies . if contact has occurred or is suspected, call your personal physician or local health department immediately. if contact has not occurred, go to the links above for step-by-step instructions on how to safely rescue the bat.

    a bat found inside

    A bat found indoors is most likely a crevice-dwelling species. although the color of the fur of crevice-dwelling bats varies, it is usually a shade of gray or brown. these bats are often stray juveniles or migratory bats. they will often find their way out through an open window or door. If a bat is flying into a room, you can help it find its way out through an open door by turning off the lights inside the room and shining a flashlight beam through the open door. make sure the doors to other rooms are closed first and that the only open door is outside. if this is not an option, and if you feel confident that you can move the animal without physically touching or hurting it, continue with step one. otherwise, continue with step five.

    1. wait until the animal is motionless. A flying bat is nearly impossible to catch, and you have a higher chance of injuring it if you try to catch it while it’s in the air. furthermore, bats that are caught in flight often panic and attempt to bite. be patient. wait until the bat lands and comes to rest, and then continue with step 2.

    2. hold the bat quietly approach the bat and, wearing thick gloves or using a thick towel, pick up the bat (holding it securely but not tightly) and place it in a box or similar container with a lid. or instead, simply place a box, trash can, coffee can, or similar object on top of the bat where it has landed. Next, take a piece of cardboard and gently slide it between the box and the surface the bat is on (i.e. the floor, wall, or ceiling). Keeping the cardboard in place, gently turn the container right side up. if the bat is captured during the day, continue with step 5. if the bat is captured during the night and does not appear to be a baby bat, continue with step 3. important note!: do not place the bat in a cage or container for birds with small openings. bats are very smart and can easily fit through a 1/4 x 1/2 inch crack.

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    3. release the bat outdoors at nightfall. Once the bat has been captured, take the container out into the open air. take a flashlight and a towel or gloves with you in case the bat has trouble flying. Find an elevated area (such as a platform or ladder), lift the box over your head and tilt it to the side so the bat can fly (the bat will not be able to fly out of a grounded container in an upright position). skip to step 4. (note: don’t drop the bat during the day or during cold or bad weather. skip to step 5 instead).

    4. watch him go Use the flashlight to watch the bat fly away. If the bat doesn’t fly away, or tries to fly but seems unable to do so, it probably has an injury or illness. it may be a disoriented juvenile, or it may simply be dehydrated or hungry from being trapped inside. if this is the case, use the towel or gloves (not bare hands) to pick up the bat. keep the bat in the closed container and put it in a safe place that is free of children, pets, fire ants, or other hazards, and continue to step 5.

    note: it is not safe to attempt to care for the bat on your own; bats should only be cared for by trained and vaccinated people. Also, to survive, bats in this condition may need electrolyte injections in addition to specialized food and cages.

    5. call a local wildlife rehabilitator for help. see locate a rescuer.

    a bat found outdoors

    Bats that perch on foliage have beautiful fur in shades of red, yellow, and tan (like dried leaves), or have multi-colored fur covered in white. these bats are frequently found on the ground in early summer when mothers move their young, or when they stay ashore after blue jay attacks or storms. occasionally these bats panic and defend themselves when approaching humans by spreading their wings in a mock attack and making loud hissing or clicking sounds. Follow the steps below to rescue a bat from a tree. If you don’t feel equipped to swing the bat, continue to step five. note: if the bat is gray or brown, it is likely a crevice-dwelling species. Crevice-dwelling bats found outdoors and on land should be examined and cared for by a wildlife rehabilitator. place the bat in a container using the method described in “a bat found indoors” and proceed to step five.

    1. make sure the bat is safe from predators. have someone watch the bat so it doesn’t fall prey to household pets, fire ants, or blue jays. if the bat stays still and still, continue to step 2. if the bat panics as described above, continue to step 5.

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    2. don’t use your hands to help the bat. instead, gently tap a small tree branch (two or three feet long) on ​​the bats’ legs. this usually initiates a grasping reflex and the bat will grasp the branch with its toes. when you pick up the branch, you can inspect the bat (or mother bat with babies) for injuries. if babies cling to mother and no injuries are apparent, continue to step 3. if injuries are noted, continue to step 5.

    3. slowly move the bats into the branches of a nearby tree. this must be done very carefully. a sudden movement can cause a mother bat to fly away and abandon her young. Using a ladder, gently secure the branch in a place where foliage and leaves hide bats. the spot must be on a branch at least eight or more feet off the ground, with a clearing below to allow the bat to take flight. (Do not place bats in the same tree where the attack may have occurred and do not place bats on a tree trunk where they will be vulnerable to predators. Also make sure there is no visible bird’s nest in the tree.) proceed. to step 4.

    4. monitor the area. check the area the next morning. if the bat has remained in the same position overnight, you may have an undetected injury or illness. if the mother bat is gone but her pups remain, the pups may have been abandoned. continue with step 5.

    5. call a local wildlife rehabilitator for help. see locate a rescuer.

    The following video shows how to get an arboreal bat with pups on the ground to return to a tree.

    (video courtesy of erica quinzel)

    note: the information contained in this text regarding health and/or safety precautions may not be suitable for all people and/or situations. it is the obligation of readers to comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

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