How to Safely Capture a Bat

How to Safely Capture a Bat


Now I know it can be frightening to have a bat in your home, but they’re also a really important part of our environment. Hi, my name’s Carrie Klumb. I’m an epidemiologist and the animal rabies surveillance coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Health. Part of my job is talking to people every day about their risk of rabies from animals, including bats. We’re at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville Minnesota to demonstrate how to safely capture a bat. The most important piece of equipment is a solid and clean container, like a deli-size Tupperware container or a shoebox. You should add some breathing holes, but keep them quite small – less than an eighth of an inch – so the bat can’t squeeze out. If you do use a box, tape any holes inside and outside and make sure all the sides are taped. You should also wear winter or leather work gloves to protect your hands. Bats can bite through cloth like gardening gloves, towels, or sheets. Don’t use items like tennis racquets, shoes, or baseball bats to smash the bat. If the bat is fine, make sure someone is watching it at all times. Don’t try to knock it out of the air or try to catch it while flying. Catching a bat in a way that keeps it alive is best for testing and best for the animal. Once the bat lands on a surface, place the hard-sided container over the bat and slide the lid between the bat and the surface. Make sure the entire bat is in the box before securing the lid. If you’ve seen a bat in the house and now you can’t locate it, you might be able to find it by listening for the sounds a bat makes. Sometimes bats end up in shoes, jackets, or other items like a purse. You may find a bat in one of these objects when you go to put the item on. If this happens to you, just put the entire item into a large container like a storage bin. If you can’t find a bin, a garbage bag will work in a pinch. Now you’ve safely captured the bat in a container. What should you do next? If the bat seems injured or unhealthy or it’s wintertime, please call the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at 651 486-9453 and they will help you figure out where to take the bat. If it’s summer and the bat is uninjured and you know that no one was exposed to the bat and no one was found sleeping in a room where the bat was found, it’s OK to release it outside. However if you know that someone did have physical contact with the bat or someone was asleep and woke up to the bat in their room, or you had a very young child or a vulnerable adult that couldn’t reliably tell you what happened then we do want you to test the bat for rabies. We’d like you to call us at the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-5414. If you can’t reach the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center or the Minnesota Department of Health, please keep the bat in the container and place it in a dark, quiet, warm area and try calling us again in the morning. We’d be happy to help you.