Bats have an important role in ecosystems around the globe. They eat insects and agricultural pests, but they also can carry rabies. Rabies can only be confirmed through laboratory testing.
What You Should Do
If You Have been Bitten by a Bat
Bats have small teeth and bites may not be easily seen, therefore people do not always know if they have been bitten by a bat. If you wake up to find a bat in your room, see a bat in the room of an unattended child, or see a bat near a mentally impaired or intoxicated person, seek medical advice and have the bat tested. When in doubt call RIDOH at 401-222-2577.
If a bat bites you, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and get medical advice immediately. Whenever possible, the bat should be captured and sent to a lab for rabies testing.
If Your Pet is Exposed to a Bat
If you think your pet or other domestic animal has been exposed to a bat, contact a veterinarian or the health department and have the bat tested for rabies. Remember to keep vaccinations current for cats, dogs, and other pets.
If You have Bats in Your House
If a bat is present in your home and you cannot rule out the possibility of exposure, leave the bat alone and contact Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Fish and Wildlife at 401-789-0281 for assistance.
If you cannot reach a licensed professional to catch a bat RIDOH recommends:
- Put on leather gloves and slowly approach the bat when it lands.
- Place a clear, see-through container over the bat.
- Slide a lid under the container to trap the bat inside.
- Securely tape the lid to the container and punch small holes in the lid so the bat can breathe.
- Call RIDOH at 401-222-2577 to make arrangements for rabies testing.
Prevent Bats from Entering Your House
- Carefully examine your home for holes that might allow bats entry to the home;
- Caulk any openings larger than ¼ inch by ½ inch;
- Use window screens, chimney caps, and draft guards beneath doors to attics;
- Fill electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool or caulking;
- Ensure that all doors to the outside close tightly;
- Observe where the bats exit at dusk and exclude them by loosely hanging clear plastic sheeting or bird netting over these areas (bats can leave, but can not reenter);
- After bats have been excluded, the openings can be permanently sealed;
- Avoid exclusion from May through August because many young bats are unable to fly and may die trapped inside or make their way into living quarters;
- Most bats leave to hibernate in fall or winter, so this is the best time to "bat-proof."
- Hire a licensed professional to secure your home from bats as described above.