Rabies Home > Bat Rabies

What to Do If a Bat Is in the Home

If you see a bat in your home and you are sure no human or pet exposure has occurred, confine the bat to a room by closing all doors and windows leading out of the room except those to the outside. The bat will probably leave soon. If not, it can be caught, as described below, and released outdoors away from people and pets.
 
However, if there is any question of exposure, leave the bat alone and call animal control or a wildlife conservation agency for assistance.
 
If professional assistance is unavailable, use precautions to capture the bat safely, as described below.
 
What you will need:
 
  • Leather work gloves (put them on)
  • Small box or coffee can
  • Piece of cardboard
  • Tape.
     
When the bat lands, approach it slowly and place a box or coffee can over it. Slide the cardboard under the container to trap the bat inside. Tape the cardboard to the container securely. Contact your health department or animal control authority to make arrangements for rabies testing.
 

How Can You Tell If a Bat Has Rabies?

Rabies can be confirmed only in a laboratory; however, any bat that is active by day, is found in a place where bats are not usually seen (for example in rooms in your home or on the lawn), or is unable to fly, is far more likely than others to be rabid. Such bats are often the most easily approached. Therefore, it is best never to handle any bat.
 

Bats and Rabies: Prevention

There are a number of preventative measures that a family can take in order to reduce the chances of rabies transmission from a bat. Below are a few bat bite prevention strategies:
 
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. "Love your own, leave other animals alone" is a good principle for children to learn.
     
  • Wash any wound from an animal thoroughly with soap and water, and seek medical attention immediately.
     
  • Have all dead, sick, or easily captured bats tested for rabies, if exposure to people or pets occurs.
     
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas where they might contact people and pets.
     
  • Be a responsible pet owner by keeping vaccinations current for all dogs, cats, and ferrets. Also, keep your cats and ferrets inside and your dogs under direct supervision, calling animal control to remove stray animals from your neighborhood, and consider having your pets spayed or neutered.
     
Remember, in situations where a bat is physically present and you cannot reasonably rule out having been bitten, safely capture the bat for rabies testing and seek medical attention immediately.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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