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Living with District Bats

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District batsAll things bats - species list, the District’s research, facts and myths, and what to do if you find one in the wild!

DO BATS CARRY RABIES?

Less than 1% of bats carry rabies; however, rabies is a serious threat and direct contact with bats should be avoided. If you do come into direct contact and receive a bite or a scratch or have found a bat in a room with a sleeping, intoxicated, or mentally disabled person, an unattended child, or an unvaccinated pet, then you should contact the rabies hotline at 1-800-4RABIES, your local health department, or your physician.

For more information from DOH about rabies, please visit the Rabies and Animal Exposure page Rabies and Animal Exposure.

Do not allow the bat to exit the house until you are advised by a professional that there is no concern of exposure to rabies.

More information on bats as rabies vectors can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF A BAT ENTERS MY HOUSE?

This is a fairly common occurrence during the summer when juvenile bats are first learning how to fly.

View a helpful brochure created by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department to learn how to safely remove a bat from your home.

If you suspect a person or animal may have been bitten by a bat, please call the rabies hotline at 1-800-4RABIES or the Department of Health at: (202) 442-5865.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I FIND A SICK, INJURED, OR DEAD BAT?

During summer hot spells, bats may become dehydrated and you may find them laying on the ground or within your home. Often, these bats just need somewhere safe to recover. After sunset, you can wear gloves to place the bat outside somewhere safe and high from predators, such as a tree branch. Do not place the bat in a container that it will not be able to escape from. This gives the bat the best chance of returning to its natural roost.

If you find a dead bat, please refer to the information provided by USGS.

If you have had direct contact and suspect rabies exposure via a bite or scratch, please contact the rabies hotline at 1-800-4RABIES.

BATS IN BUILDINGS

From one bat to many, information and resources for how to address bats in buildings such as helpful tips, times of year to avoid, and methods to bat-proof a building responsibly. For concerns or instructions about rabies testing, call the Department of Health at: (202) 442-5865.

How Do I Prevent Bats From Entering My Home?

Make sure that no screenless windows or doors are left open. Maintain your home to prevent/fix any cracks or crevices that would allow bats to enter.

Why and How Do Bats Enter My Home?

Bats do not create holes to roost in your house; instead, they are opportunists and find small openings to enter (even as small as a half inch!). These holes and cracks are often located around the chimney, in attic vents, under roof tiles, at roof edges, along ridge caps, soffits, fascia boards, and under flashing.

To inspect your home for possible bat roosting, check for guano piles (bat feces) or dark staining at entrance points. You may also observe bats exiting these areas at sunset and returning at sunrise. If you determine that your home does have bats roosting, check for connections between the roost and your living spaces (attic access doors, chimneys, closets, etc.).

If this is the first time you’ve found a bat in your home, it may simply be a confused individual that flew in through an opening on a summer night. However, if you frequently find bats in your living spaces, they are likely roosting somewhere in your home (usually in the attic).

How Can I Get Several Bats Out of My Home?

If you have determined that there are several bats roosting in your home, you likely have a “maternity” colony of big brown bats or little brown bats. During the summer, females of these two species form large groups to raise their pups in insulated, safe spaces (such as attics). Big brown bats may also remain during the winter instead of hibernating in caves and mines.

It is possible to safely exclude bats from your home. Please refer to this guide for bat exclusion published by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to learn how to responsibly remove the bat colony.

You can also contact a local professional nuisance wildlife specialist to remove the bats from your home.

We also recommend installing a bat box before the completion of an exclusion to increase the survival of displaced bats. Learn More>>

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