How to rescue a bat


If you find a bat grounded or in an unusual place, please read here how to handle and contain a bat here:

I just found a bat on the ground. What should I do? Do NOT pick up or touch the bat with your bare hands. Any bat found on the ground is very likely to be sick, and may have rabies. Place a small box or container (preferably non- metallic) over or near the bat and use a piece of paper or the lid of the box to gently scoop the bat into the box, again being careful not to touch it with your bare hands. Close the container securely and bring the bat to the wildlife center immediately. As most bats are dying of thirst by the time they are found, the bat will need to be brought into a wildlife rescue center as quickly as possible.

There is a bat flying in my house. How do we get it out without hurting it? Open all doors and windows to the outside in the room where the bat is located. Close all doors to the rest of the house to keep the bat from flying deeper into the house. Turn out the lights in the room and LEAVE the room for a few hours. The bat will usually smell the fresh air and find its way outside. Occasionally a bat will not leave and must be coaxed out. One method is to gently throw a large sheet over the bat while it is flying and very carefully shake it out once outside. If a bat is hanging on a wall, a small, preferably non- metallic container may be carefully placed over the bat and a piece of paper or cardboard can then be gently slid between the container and the wall so that the bat will fall into the container. The container can then be taken outside and left on its side in a safe, shaded area so that the bat can walk out and fly away. If the bat cannot fly or appears to be injured, it should be taken to a wildlife center immediately.

Can I get rabies from a bat? Bat can contract rabies, although the numbers are much lower than people have been led to believe. Anywhere from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 200 bats in the wild (depending upon species and geographical location) will contract rabies. Bats do not have "outbreaks" of rabies, and no research has ever shown evidence of rabies "epidemics" in bats. (Dr. Denny Constantine, pers. comment. 1996) Bats are not asymptomatic carriers of rabies, remaining healthy but spreading the disease. If a bat gets rabies they will fall and die within a few days of showing symptoms. The rabies virus will be present in the infected bat's saliva and may be transferred to another animal or human by a bite. Simply not picking up a bat will lower your chances of getting rabies from a bat to statistically zero.

Do bats attack people? Bats do not attack people or get "stuck" in their hair. Bat researchers, who often must work very closely with bats, are never attacked by them, no matter what the provocation. But bats, like any wild animal, will bite in self-defense if they are picked up or handled. The smaller bats will often fly close to your face because they are hunting the mosquitoes that are attracted to human breath. The mosquitoes, on the other hand, ARE attacking and biting you.

How do we get rid of a colony of bats in our house? As their natural habitat becomes destroyed, bats often move into the attics, eaves or walls of houses and other structures. Unless the numbers of bats are very large, most homeowners are unaware that bats are using their house as a day or night roost. Bats can be humanely evicted during the early spring and late fall; they must NEVER be evicted during nursery season (early May through September), as the babies will be unable to fly away with their mothers. Humane evictions consist of hanging nets over the exit holes, making a type of one way "doggie door" that is left up for a week or so until it is certain that all bats have left. The entry/exit holes can then be permanently sealed. Using poisons on bats is illegal in US and most countries as this practice has been shown to be extremely dangerous to humans and has actually made some houses uninhabitable. "America's Neighborhood Bats", by Merlin Tuttle, University of Texas Press, soft cover (about $9.00) has an excellent chapter on humanely excluding bats and instructions for placing nets. The nets should be placed over the exit holes and nailed or fastened on the top and sides, but left open at the bottom with the bottom edge hanging approximately 18 inches below the exit hole. Fiberglass screening, available at any hardware store, is an acceptable material for netting. Bats sometimes congregate in the ceiling or on walls of porches at night. This called a "night roost" and is made up of bats that are out hunting insects. These bats can be discouraged from roosting in unacceptable locations by placing a small fan directed toward the bats and leaving it on a high setting for several nights. Aren't bats just rodents? Bats are not related to rodents. They are actually more closely related to us than they are to rodents. Bats do not chew wood or insulation. They live up to 30 years or more and reproduce very slowly; most bats have only one offspring per year. Bats are not considered vermin, and are crucial to a healthy environment. They are considered keystone species in many ecosystems, meaning that many ecosystems would crash if bats were removed. In California, bats are very important for mosquito and inset crop pest control.

Can I keep a bat as a pet? It is illegal in the US and most countries to keep wild animals as pets, even for a few days. Bats do not do well in captivity and will die quickly if they do not get the proper diet and care. Another important consideration is that any bat that is easy to catch may be sick with rabies. For your safety as well as the bats', bring it to a wildlife rescue center immediately.

Here are some very useful ideas about rescuing bats: or give Bat World Sanctuary a call at 940-325-3404.

If you find a bat please DO NOT rely on email to get help since time may be critical to saving the bat. ALWAYS CALL a bat or wildlife rehabilitator nearest to your location.


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