Bats & Rabies
Bat-Proofing Your Home
Bats are animals that are known to carry diseases. Once in your home, they pose a risk to the health of you and your family. In Ontario, bats are one of the most common animals that can spread the rabies virus.
Bats in our home are a public health concern!
As the cooler weather approaches and you start preparing your house and yard for the winter months, don’t forget to bat-proof your home!
Most bats leave houses in the fall and winter months, so this is the best time of year to bat-proof your home. Do not bat-proof in the summer months as trapped young bats may die or find their way into other rooms of your house.
Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal. Rabies is spread through the saliva of infected animals, mainly by biting. It can also be spread through scratches and exposure to mucous membranes or open skin.
Protect yourself and your family!
To prevent bats from entering your home, use:
- Window screens
- Chimney caps
- Draft-guards beneath doors to attics
- Ensure that all doors to the outside close tightly
- Net or caulk all openings into the house larger than a dime, such as electrical and plumbing holes
If there are bats already settled in your home, you should try to remove them. Bats often settle in areas such as:
- Peaks of roofs
- Under siding, roof tiles, shingles
- Behind shutters
Watch where the bats exit at dusk and keep them from coming back by hanging a clear plastic sheet or bird netting over these areas with the bottom-end loose. This way bats can leave, but cannot re-enter. When you’re sure all the bats are gone, the openings can be permanently sealed.
Although bats can be a health concern in your home, they can be beneficial in the community. A single brown bat can capture about 600 mosquitoes per hour (Healthy Canadians, 2013). Once you have successfully bat-proofed your home, you can create a special home for bats by installing a bat house. A bat house can be built out of old wood, or purchased at your local hardware store and placed on a tree or pole away from your home. These should be hung before starting to remove the bats from your home, to prevent them from moving into another building instead. For tips and guidelines on putting up a bat house, visit www.batcon.org and search “Bat Houses”.
If there is a bat in your house:
Exposure to bats is very high risk, especially since bat bites can be very small and not always easily seen. People can get rabies from being exposed to a bat, even if the bite marks are not seen.
If you are certain that there has been no contact between the bat and your pets or family, contain the bat in a single room and keep your family and pets out of the room. Open the window to the room and shut any doors that lead to the rest of the house. The bat should follow the flow of fresh air and leave on its own when it is dark.
If there has been contact between the bat and your family:
- Wash the area with soap and water for at least 15 minutes
- Seek immediate medical attention
- Contact a local animal control company to catch the bat
- Call the Windsor Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) for direction on having the bat tested for rabies: 519-258-2146 ext. 4475 (After hours or on holidays: 519-973-4510)
If you or a family member, particularly a child, wakes up with a bat in the bedroom, do not assume there was no contact during sleep. Seek medical attention and contact WECHU for further direction.
Visit our ‘Animal Bite’ webpage for more information.
Do not handle or try to catch a bat yourself, unless you know how to do it safely.
Teach children not to touch or play with wild animals and to tell an adult if they see one nearby. Any dead bats that are found should be shovelled into a container, and a Public Health Inspector should be contacted to determine the course of action (e.g. discarding, testing for rabies). Visit the Healthy Canadians website for more information on safely capturing a bat.
How can I protect my pets from getting rabies from a bat?
- Vaccinate your pet against rabies (3 months of age or older); it’s the law.
- Monitor your pet often when they are outside.
- Seek veterinary assistance if your pet has been in contact with a bat.
If you have additional questions or concerns, please call our intake line to speak with a Public Health Inspector at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.