A bat with its mouth open

What Does a Bat Bite Look Like?

Bat bites can be difficult to spot as they are usually small. The bite may sometimes show teeth marks but often will just look like pinpricks and may not even be visible. 

Are Bat Bites Common?

Bats do not usually bite or attack a human unless they are provoked or sick. Like other animals, if bats feel threatened or trapped, they will defend themselves and may bite. Most bat bites occur when people attempt contact with the bats – for example when trying to catch a bat – therefore, it is best to avoid contact wherever possible. 

Bats have tiny teeth

Bat bites are so small due to the tiny size of bats teeth. Bats have canines, incisors, premolars, and molars, just like us, but much smaller! Bats that feed primarily on insects have very strong, sharp teeth which enable them to catch and eat their food, whereas bats that feed on fruit and nectar do not have such sharp teeth. In the US, the most common bats that our bat removal teams find are Small Brown Bats, Mexican Free Tails, and Large Brown Bats – these are all insectivorous, so have small but sharp teeth. Although the teeth are very small, because they are so sharp, bites will puncture the skin. 

Bat on a tree showing sharp teeth

Are Bat Bites Hard to see?

Bat bites are incredibly small due to the tiny size of bat teeth. The bite mark can be 1mm or smaller; the mark may not even be visible or may disappear in a short time. Therefore, if you think you were bitten by a bat but cannot see a mark, don’t assume the bat did not bite you. 

Are Bat Bites Dangerous?

Some bat bites can be painful, feeling like a sharp jab, but are often reported to just feel like a needle prick. Some have said they didn’t even feel the bite at all. So bites are not usually serious due to the wound or pain of the actual bite, but they should be taken seriously as bats can carry bacteria and viruses that can harm humans. Diseases that bats have been known to carry include rabies, histoplasmosis, and zoonotic virus’ such as ebola, SARS coronavirus, and others. 

WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN BITTEN BY A BAT

If you think you have been bitten by a bat, you should seek immediate medical attention. You may not see a mark from a bite, and you may not feel unwell, but it is still important you speak to a healthcare professional who can offer rabies shots or other medical care if required. If you are unsure whether there has been contact with a bat -for instance, if you wake up with a bat in your room or if a bat was near a child or someone with a disability – medical advice should be sought. Not all bats carry disease, but according to the CDC, bats are still the leading cause of rabies deaths in the US. Sadly, if treatment is not received, rabies is a fatal disease therefore, the CDC state: “Rabies postexposure prophylaxis (or PEP, which includes vaccination) is recommended for any person with a bite or scratch from a bat unless the bat is available for testing and tests negative for rabies.”

An older man talks to a nurse

How to know if a bat has rabies

You cannot see whether a bat is sick or has rabies simply by looking at the bat. The only way to tell if a bat has rabies is for it to be tested in a laboratory. For this reason, if you have contact with or are bitten by a bat in your house, the CDC advises you capture the bat and send it off for testing. 

How to catch a bat that bit you.

How to capture the bat: 

  • Make sure pets and children are out of the room. 
  • Cover up well with long-sleeved clothing and thick leather gloves. 
  • Wait until the bat lands somewhere.
  • Using a large container such as a bucket, slowly put it over the bat.
  • Slide a piece of cardboard under the container, and with it tightly pressed to the container, flip the container over, then tape the cardboard to the container to secure it. 

Next, contact your local health department, vet, or animal control dept to find out where to drop the bat off for testing.

Avoid being bitten by a bat

Although bat bites, if visible, are very small, it is important to avoid being bitten by bats. We recommend you avoid contact with bats. If you are outside and you see bats, move away from them or keep a safe distance. When sleeping outside, use a tent or netting as protection. Take steps to keep bats out of your home and commercial properties. If you think you have bats roosting on your property, seek help from a professional bat removal specialist.  

Your Local Bat Removal Specialist,

Michael Koski

Get Bats Out Owner and President Michael Koski

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