Never Handle a Bat With Your Bare Hands!
A bat is a wild animal. When it is picked up it will bite. Bats are small, so when they are on the ground, people tend to approach them. When they are sick or injured a bat often lies quietly and looks calm until they are touched, then they will try to protect themselves. Humans should never touch a bat without protecting themselves. We wouldn’t pick up an injured or sick raccoon or feral cats without protecting ourselves, but somehow people don’t stop and think about the dangers of being bitten by a bat. If the bat is touched with bare hands, the bat must be tested for rabies; this means the bat will need to be killed. If the bat escapes, the person should contact their health provider to evaluate the need for rabies vaccination. Many animals do not show symptoms of rabies until the disease has progressed. Signs and symptoms vary between species. Generally bats do not become ferocious when they display signs of rabies. They don’t foam at the mouth, or have other symptoms for which we are more familiar. Just because a bat is not acting vicious doesn’t mean it’s not sick. For more information see the CDC website.
IF THE BAT IS FLYING INSIDE THE HOME: open the doors or windows. Turn inside lights out and turn on outside lights. The bat will follow the bugs which are attracted to the light.
If this doesn’t work and you are sure no human contact has occurred:
- Wait until the bat is motionless. Move slowly and calmly.
- Cover the bat with a box or container. Contact NorCal Bats at 530-902-1918.
- If the bat must be moved, wear heavy gloves for your safety and the safety of the bat. Use a small box or coffee can and a piece of cardboard to scoop the bat in to a box or other small container.
- Place a cloth such as t-shirt material (nothing with loops that can catch the bat’s toes) in the box to give it a place to cling and hide. Water can be offered by placing it in a very shallow container (like a baby food jar lid).
- Make sure the box with the bat is safe from predators, pets and children; in a calm quiet place, out of the direct sun.
- Call, don’t send e-mail for a rescue. Contact NorCal Bats at 530-902-1918 or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for a wildlife rehabilitator in your area.
- Do not attempt to rehabilitate the bat on your own or try to keep it as a pet. Bats have very specific dietary and environmental requirements. A trained rehabilitator will be familiar with the needs of the various bat species. Also, it is not legal to keep any wildlife as a pet.
What is a Bat?
- A bat is a mammal – the only one with true flight.
- Bats can see about as well as we see and they use echolocation.
- There are about 1,100 species of bats in the world – that is almost 25% of all mammal species.
- There are 45 species in the US, 24 in California and about 16 species that live or migrate through the Northern California valley, foothills and mountains.
- All our bats eat insects.
A Few Bat Facts
- Most bats eat insects including some disease-causing and crop-eating insects. The insect-eating bats help to reduce illness, crop loss and the use of poisonous pesticides on food.
- Loss of bats destabilizes ecosystems and increases our reliance on chemical alternatives which often threaten both environmental and human health.
- Worldwide, bats play essential roes in keeping populations of night flying insects in balance.
- Desert ecosystems rely on nectar feeding bats as primary pollinators of giant cactus.
- A Red Bat that eats 100 moths may prevent egg-laying that would produce 25,000 new caterpillars that could attack farmers crops.
- One Little Brown Bat can catch 1,200 bugs in an hour, often two in a single second. A nursing mother eats more than her own body weight nightly – up to 4,500 insects, including pests such as mosquitoes.
- The largest bat in the world is the Giant Flying Fox found in Malaysia with a 5 1⁄2 foot wing span, the largest in the US is the Western Mastiff with a 2 foot wing span
- The smallest bat in the world is the Bumblebee Bat found in Thailand with a 6 inch wing span in the US the Western Pipistrelle with an 8 inch wing span.
- Bats are exceptionally vulnerable to extinction, in part because they are the slowest reproducing mammals on earth for their size, most produce only one young annually. Also, many species live in large colonies where one attack can kill thousands, even millions.
- More than 50% of American bat species are endangered or declining sufficiently to warrant special concern.