When Bats Cross the Line, Take Action

When Bats Cross the Line, Take Action

July 1, 2009

Be prepared to respond when young bats spread their wings — sometimes into your home or other structures.

July is when bat young become mature enough to begin exploring.

Unfortunately, they frequently lack the strength to follow the rest of the colony out of the roost, so they may look for other opportunities to "spread their wings." Frequently, this means your living space.

If you discover a bat in your living area, there are several things you should do to protect your family.

Bat Bites

Do you think you would know if you had been bitten by a bat? Think again. Bat bites are so small that they are practically undetectable.

Assume that you or your child was bitten by the bat if:

  • you awaken to find a bat flying in your room.
  • you find a bat in a room with an unattended child (sleeping or awake).
  • you find a bat in a room with someone who is mentally unable to assess whether he/she was bitten by a bat.

Take Action

Directions for capturing a bat to minimize risk are available at: Bat Fact: Most humans who died of rabies (also known as hydrophobia) in the U.S. have died from the bat strain.


If you suspect that you, your family, or your pet may have come into contact with a bat, do not let it out of your house. The bat must be captured, without damaging its head, and tested for rabies.

Don't use a tennis racket to stun it because the head could be damaged.

If you are too frightened to take care of it yourself, call your local health department or police and inform them of your situation. They may be able to help or direct you to someone for assistance.

Bat Bites on Pets. If only your pet has come into contact with the bat, don't handle your pet without wearing proper hand protection. Remember, rabies is carried in the saliva and nerve tissue of its victim. If your pet has bitten the bat or has been bitten by the bat, you don't know where the bat saliva might be on your pet.

If you must handle your pet, do so with rubber gloves and then only sparingly. Consult your veterinarian as to the proper course of action. The likelihood of you contracting rabies from bat saliva on your pet is indeed remote; however, taking extra precautions may help you avoid additional problems later.

If you know that no one was been bitten by the bat, you can capture it in the same way, take it outside, and release it on a tree so it can continue its role as an insect predator extraordinaire.

Stephen Vantassel, Project Coordinator
Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management
School of Natural Resources

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