What to do if you find a bat
1. Do not touch the bat. Leave it in place.
2. For the bat’s protection, practice social distancing and keep 6 feet away from the bat.
3. If the bat must be moved, use a shovel or long-handled tool to pick it up and move it.
4. Report sick, injured, or dead bats online: tinyurl.com/WA-Bat-Survey. Please also report groups of bats. These reports provide valuable information to track bat populations in Washington: tinyurl.com/WA-Bat-Groups.
5. Remember: A small percentage of bats can carry rabies. If you have touched a bat or suspect exposure, contact your local Department of Health immediately.
Benefits of bats
Bats are highly beneficial to people, and the advantages of having them around far outweigh any problems you might have with them. As predators of night-flying insects (including mosquitoes!), bats play a role in preserving the natural balance of your property or neighborhood.
Although swallows and other bird species consume large numbers of flying insects, they generally feed only in daylight. When night falls, bats take over: a nursing female little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) may consume her body weight in insects each night during the summer.
Contrary to some widely held views, bats are not blind and do not become entangled in peoples’ hair. If a flying bat comes close to your head, it’s probably because it is hunting insects that have been attracted by your body heat. Less than one bat in 20,000 has rabies, and no Washington bats feed on blood.
Covid-19 and bat rehabilitation
Bats are one of the most beneficial animals to humans, but they may be facing yet another threat in addition to white-nose syndrome. At this time, the potential transmission from humans with the covid-19 virus to North American bats remains unknown. Researchers are investigating the susceptibility of North American bats to the covid-19 virus. Until more is known about the risk of human-associated transmission, it is critical we take additional precautionary actions to protect our bats.
Given the current unknowns and potential risks to North American bats, WDFW has advised wildlife rehabilitators to avoid accepting new bats into their facilities to protect bats against the virus that causes covid-19.
To learn more about bats and coronaviruses, visit Bat Conservation International’s frequently asked questions webpage: www.batcon.org/about-bats/faq/