If you find a bat on the ground, or someplace it does not belong, do not touch it with bare hands. Bats are not aggressive, but like many wild animals, they will bite in self defense. A tiny percentage of bats (less than a fraction of a percent) contract rabies and consequently end up on the ground due to paralysis. As a result about 10% of bats found on the ground test positive for rabies. Make sure children know not to handle or try to pick up a bat. Adults can use heavy leather gloves or a thick towel to transfer the bat to a plastic container or cardboard box. It is best to put a rag in the box with the bat. The bat will usually crawl up into the folds and quiet down. Make sure the lid is secure and there are air holes. Keep the box in a location with comfortable temperatures. Do not try to feed the bat. They only eat flying insects and will not initially recognize anything else as food. Contact a local wildlife rehabilitator or one of the organizations listed in the "Who do I call" hyperlink on the Home Page. If anyone was bitten by the bat, or possibly transferred saliva from the bat to an open wound, their eyes, mouth, or nose, they need to seek medical attention immediately. In that case the bat will need to be saved so it can be tested to see if it has rabies. For more information on bats and rabies please visit the Centers for Disease Control website.
Sometimes tree dwelling bats are blown out of a tree during a storm. This often happens during the maternity season when the young are clinging to their mother. In this situation it is best to get the bat (and pups) back up into the tree. This can be done by placing the bat (again using leather gloves or thick cloth towel) high up on the tree trunk about 15-20 minutes after sunset. If the bat is placed on the tree trunk during the day, cats, hawks, or other birds of prey may attack it.
Bats on exterior walls
Bats are occasionally found on the sides of buildings or the sides of screened enclosures. In most of these cases the bats for some reason did not return to their regular roost after the previous night of insect hunting (foraging). The best strategy here is to leave the bat alone and it will usually fly away the upcoming evening. If the bat does not fly during the subsequent evening, it may be sick or injured, and should be captured (as described above) and transported to a wildlife rehabilitator.
Florida Bat Conservancy 1690 Pine Island Road Merritt Island, FL 32953 USA Phone: (727) 710-2287