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About Bats

Caution: Never touch a bat with your bare hands. Bats are wild animals and should be treated with great care. Never attempt to feed, treat, or wash an injured bat. Do not attempt to rehabilitate a bat on your own. This is to protect you as well as the bat.

If you find a bat hanging from a wall or a tree and think it might be injured…

  1. Wait until evening and see if it leaves on its own. Sometimes bats look sick or hurt but are actually just sleeping!
  2. If the bat doesn’t leave by the next morning, please call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible or the Tufts Wildlife Clinic.

If you find a bat in your home…

  1. Open all doors and windows that lead outside.
  2. Close off the rest of the house, leaving a path from the bat’s location to the outdoors.
  3. Turn out the lights.
  4. Leave the bat for a few hours to see if it leaves on its own.
  5. If it does not leave, call your local animal control officer.

If you find a bat lying on the ground…

  1. Without touching the bat, use a cloth or a piece of paper to gently scoop the animal into a small container such as a ventilated shoebox.
  2. Put a soft cloth into the box to give the bat something to cling to.
  3. Cover the ventilated container and put it somewhere children and pets cannot disturb it.
  1. Please call your local animal control officer, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, or the Tufts Wildlife Clinic as soon as possible.

What to do – if it is safe to do so

If none of the above resources are available, and the animal is in need of immediate assistance, you may attempt rescue ONLY if it is safe to do so.

Protect yourself

Wear gloves. When dealing with non-carnivorous mammals, a thick pair of work gloves, a thick jacket, and other personal protection can prevent injury. All mammals can carry the rabies virus. Do not use bare hands when helping mammals. Please be careful not to get bitten, licked, or scratched by the animal.

Prepare a container

Have a sturdy box or animal carrier ready to contain the animal. Garbage cans, recycling bins, and plastic containers will work in a pinch, depending on the size of the animal. Make sure that you have a lid that will fit securely to the top of the box.

Capturing the animal

Approach the animal from behind, drop the towel over the animal, including the head, quickly gather the animal in the towel, then immediately place it into the container. Cover and seal the box to ensure that the animal cannot escape from the container.

Transport

Transport the animal to one of the following places:

During transport, keep the animal in the box or crate, keep the car quiet (radio off).

DO NOT keep the animal for any length of time, e.g. overnight. Place the animal in the container in the back seat of your vehicle, not in the car trunk, and monitor during transport to make sure it is not escaping!

PLEASE NOTE! Tufts Wildlife Clinic is not able to rehabilitate rabies-vector species but will humanely euthanize these animals if they are brought to us. Due to the Covid pandemic, bats are an exception to this rule at this current time. Please call the clinic at 508-839-7918 between 9-5 to get more information about bats and what to do.

For further information on rabies, visit the Mass Health & Human Services Department’s Rabies Information page.

About Rabies-vector Species

If you have found an orphaned, sick or injured raccoon, woodchuck, skunk (Caution: can spray), or bat, DO NOT touch this animal with your bare hands. All of these species are considered to be rabies vector species, which means that they are the most common wildlife species in Massachusetts that transmit rabies to other animals or people. Rabies is a viral disease that is usually spread through the affected animal’s saliva and enters another animal or person through a break in the skin or contact with the eyes, nose or mouth. From there, it spreads to the nervous system and, in almost 100% of cases, leads to eventual death. If you find an injured or sick raccoon, woodchuck, skunk, or bat, you should call one of the following numbers for assistance:

Circumstances that are NOT safe include sick or injured juvenile or adult raccoons, woodchucks, skunks or bats that:

  • are still alert to your presence
  • can readily move around
  • and/or are located in an area that is unsafe for rescue, e.g. in the middle of the road.

While the rabies virus is usually spread through a scratch or bite wound, any bare-handed contact that you have with a rabies-vector species is considered potential exposure. The only way to test if an animal has rabies is through testing of brain tissue. Therefore, if you have any bare-handed contact or are scratched or bitten by a rabies-vector species, that wild animal will have to be euthanized for rabies testing.

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