If there is ANY
chance the bat has come in contact with someone in your house, the situation needs to be handled as a potential rabies exposure. A bat bite can be very small, and may not be detected.
- Was the bat discovered in a room where someone was sleeping?
- Are there young children who may not communicate their contact with the bat?
- Is there a dog or cat in the house?
IF THE ANSWER IS YES, THERE ARE ONLY TWO OPTIONS:
Option 1 – The bat must be captured and tested for rabies
Option 2 – Anyone who had potential contact with the bat needs a rabies shot.
Rabies shots are no longer in the stomach, but they can be very expensive (at least $3500 per person, sometimes significantly more). Rabies is fatal unless shots are administered before symptoms appear. (Your pet may already have current rabies shots. If not, with the assistance of a veterinarian, your pet can be quarantined and then vaccinated at considerable less cost).
Capturing the bat is the best thing you can do in this situation. Odds are the bat will not test positive, and you will save the concern and money.
If You Can Be Certain The Bat Did Not Come Into Contact With Anyone, Proceed To STEP TWO.
Capturing the Bat
Bats look big when they are flying around, but here in the United States, they rarely weigh more than a couple ounces. When not flying, bats can crawl and hide in very small places. Here are the steps we recommend to capture the bat.
Isolate the bat. Close doors to other parts of the house, possibly even putting a towel on the ground to prevent the bat from crawling under the closed doors if there is a gap. Should you lose track of the bat, it can be very disconcerting to wonder if it could possibly be hiding in your bedroom.
Keep an eye on the bat. Many hours can be spent searching the house/room for the lost bat if it goes into hiding. Save yourself the headache by having someone keep an eye on it.
Contact your local animal control department. In some rural areas, or after business hours, the police department may handle the animal control services. Tell the animal control officer you have an emergency, there is a bat in the house, and there is a possible exposure to rabies. The animal control officer may come and take over the situation from there.
If it becomes necessary for you to capture the bat until it can be picked up for testing, here are some tips that should prove useful:
Wear some gloves and long pants when trying to capture a bat.
Bats have a difficult time taking flight from the ground. If you can knock the bat to the ground with a broom or towel, it will be slower moving and vulnerable. Usually a bat on the ground will try and crawl (very slowly) to a wall, then climb up the wall. Its ideal way to take flight is to drop from its perch a few feet to gain airspeed.
A dead bat can still be tested for rabies, provided the head is intact.
An empty coffee can or wastebasket can often be placed over the top of a bat to capture it. A fishing net also works well. A towel can be tossed over the bat (this is not a good way to store the bat, as it will crawl out from under it eventually).
If you leave the bat in the room under a can, make sure you don’t leave any pets in the room.