When I was young, my mother often told me my natural curls were a bat magnet. She would tell me that bats are blind and could easily fly into my hair at night and get hopelessly tangled. When I would walk at night, I would be sure to keep my hair in a ponytail or wear a hood.
I realize now she was pulling my leg, but there was a reason for her story. Bats should never be handled by anyone but a professional, and coming into contact with them can be dangerous. The bats themselves aren’t really dangerous, but coming into contact with them can cause problems.
The popular myth about bats being blind is untrue. They actually have very sharp vision, but at night, they need extra help in getting around. Bats send off high-pitched noises that bounce off objects and let the bats know how close and how large or small and object may be. This system works very well for the bats as they navigate the nighttime world.
Bats are generally good and useful animals. They are great for keeping down populations of bugs and insects and their droppings (commonly known as guano) is a useful fertilizer.
The bad news about bats is that they are common carriers of rabies. It is important to know what to do when confronted with a bat either outside or in your home.
Tips For Dealing With Bats
– Animals infected with rabies will exhibit strange behaviors. If you see a bat lying on the ground or inside your home, do not touch it. Even dead bats can spread rabies.
– Rabies can be passed on by bodily fluids; so do not handle bats or their droppings at any time.
– When confronted with a bat in your yard or home, call animal control to take care of the problem for you.
– Keep screens on all windows and secure any openings where bats may enter your home. Keep chimney flues and dampers closes when not in use.
– If a bat flies into your home, try to isolate it in a room and call for assistance.
– If you find bats roosting in your attic, it is important they be removed by professionals.
– If bats have been in your home, you should see your doctor. Because fluids can spread rabies, you may not be aware you or a member of your family has been infected. Some bats can bite without it being felt, and the marks may be too small to be detected.
– Any pet that has come near a bat should be seen by a veterinarian. Make sure your pets’ rabies shots are up-to-date.
Treatment For Rabies
If treatment is needed, the person infected (or feared to be infected) will receive a series of shots in a muscular area of the body. The number of shots given today is far less than in the past, and they are no longer administered in the stomach.