Bat in your house? Don't touch it or kill it

Aug 21, 2014 by Libby Roerig
Indiana State University graduate student Vanessa Rojas examines a bat while doing research in Tennessee this summer.

After a confirmed rabies case in Parke County last week, experts are urging caution if you find a bat in your home or office.

"If you try to kill a bat, you're more likely to get bitten," said Joy O'Keefe, assistant professor of biology and director of Indiana State University's Center for Bat Research, Outreach and Conservation. "Most people find in their houses are healthy and are not going to bite them and give them rabies."

In fact, less than 1 percent of bats tested by the health department are positive for the disease, and bats are seldom aggressive, O'Keefe said. But the bat inside your house could be a federally endangered species, such as the Indiana Bat, which is found in this area.

So if you spot a bat in your home or office, don't kill it or touch it with bare hands, O'Keefe said. Instead, put on a pair of heavy gloves and gently scrape it into a box or bucket. Once contained, the bat can be evicted outside—away from children and pets.

"If it's a healthy bat, it'll crawl up a tree and it'll fly away eventually. O'Keefe said. "If it doesn't move or seem to be healthy, you can take it to the health department to be tested."

If there's a possibility it bit a child or unvaccinated animal, O'Keefe recommends getting the bat tested.

This time of year is when bats move from their summer roosting sites to their winter roosting sites, O'Keefe.

A bat is seen perched in a cave.

"They're definitely moving, and that's why we're starting to see them in our buildings this time of year," said O'Keefe. "We get calls every year during the first month of school from people finding bats in buildings on Indiana State's campus."

Bats are a tremendous help to people, as every night they can eat up to their entire body weight in insects, such as mosquitos, moths and beetles. Bats, however, are facing tremendous threats from the devastating White Nose Syndrome epidemic, wind turbines, and habitat destruction.

"The best way the average person can help bats is by understanding them and by telling other people how awesome bats are and what bats do for us," O'Keefe said. "Hopefully, that (awareness) will translate into the mindset that if there's a bat in my house, I should try to get it out but not kill it. That would be really positive for bats—to not have people be one of their major threats."

Explore further: If you own, use or manage a swimming pool, Indiana State's bat research center needs your help

Related Stories

Bats bounce back in Europe

Jan 29, 2014

Europe's bat population recovered by more than 40 percent between 1993 and 2011 after decades of decline, according to a survey published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) on Thursday.

Recommended for you

Telling the time of day by color

20 hours ago

Research by scientists at The University of Manchester has revealed that the colour of light has a major impact on how the brain clock measures time of day and on how the animals' physiology and behavior adjust accordingly. ...

Aphrodisiac for fish and frogs discovered

Apr 17, 2015

A supplement simply added to water has been shown to boost reproduction in nematodes (roundworms), molluscs, fish and frogs – and researchers believe it could work for humans too.

Evolution puts checks on virgin births

Apr 17, 2015

It seems unnatural that a species could survive without having sex. Yet over the ages, evolution has endowed females of certain species of amphibians, reptiles and fish with the ability to clone themselves, ...

Humans can't resist those puppy-dog eyes

Apr 16, 2015

When humans and their four-legged, furry best friends look into one another's eyes, there is biological evidence that their bond strengthens, researchers report.

Roundworm parasite targets canine eyes

Apr 16, 2015

(HealthDay)—A small number of dogs and cats across the United States have been infected by a roundworm parasite that targets the eye, according to a new report.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

barakn
not rated yet Aug 21, 2014
Just open a window or door and let the bat find it via echolocation. They find their way through caves quite easily using the same method. Do not handle the bat with heavy gloves or "gently scrape it."

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.