Management of Bat-Related Incidents in Homes

In New York State, it is not uncommon for bats to appear in occupied dwellings, such as homes, apartments or camps. Evaluating potential human and domestic animal contact with a bat and capturing and retaining it for rabies testing, if necessary, is critical for the effective management of rabies exposures.

Almost all of the human rabies deaths that have occurred in the United States since 1990 were linked to bat rabies. Of the bat-associated fatalities, the majority of people did not report any known contact with a bat. Among bats submitted to the NYS Department of Health Wadsworth Center Rabies Laboratory for testing,

To evaluate potential human and domestic animal contact:

All bat-related incidents should be reported to the local health department.

For questions about handling incidents, or to immediately report those which may require rabies treatment, the local health department should be contacted. They have someone available 24 hours per day.

The name of the local health department is: ______________________________

Their business hours phone number is: ____________________

Their off hours phone number is: ____________________

Instructions for use of bat capture kit:

In this home, the bat capture kit is kept: __________________________________ (location)

Carefully avoid direct contact with the bat and avoid damaging its head.

  • Close the windows, and the room and closet doors; turn on the lights if the room is dark
  • Wait for the bat to land
  • Wearing gloves (heavy, preferably pliable thick leather), cover the bat with a coffee can or similar container with a lid*
  • Slide a piece of cardboard under the can, trapping the bat
  • With one hand firmly holding the cardboard in place against the top of the can, turn the can right side up
  • Replace the cardboard with the lid (if no lid, tape the cardboard tightly to the can)

  • While wearing gloves (heavy, preferably pliable thick leather), slowly approach the bat with net
  • Rotate the pole so that the bat is scooped into the net and the net turns in on itself containing the bat
  • With a gloved hand, grab the bat through the outside of the net, slide the coffee can into the net, push the bat into the can and place the lid on the can (if no lid, tape a piece of cardboard over the can)

* Note: If a bat has landed behind something or in a space that is too narrow to cover with a coffee can, forceps may be used to capture it. Using a gloved hand to hold the forceps, firmly but gently grasp the bat under a wing and close to its body. Place the bat in the bottom of the coffee can and release your grip on the forceps. Cover the coffee can and contact the local health department as stated above.

In the event that four or more hours are needed before transportation of a bat for subsequent rabies testing occurs, the bat should be double-bagged in plastic and placed in a cooler or refrigerated area. Under no circumstances should a bat be stored in the same cooler or refrigerator as food or pharmaceuticals. The specimen should be kept away from potential contact with people or other animals.