Tips for Handling Bats in Your Homes in Brookline
A reminder about what to do if you discover a bat inside your home.
[Update: Since the time this piece was originally written, the Public Health Department website has posted a press release about bats and their presence in Brookline. See the full release in the PDFs section to the right. July 25]
When a bat appears in your house, the first instinct to get it out of your home may not be the best.
The "bat call" item has appeared in several police log entries in the last few weeks, and appeared a number of times in the Weekend Police Log, which will appear later today. Thus, we pulled together a list of tips and tricks for handling the flying mammals.
Below is some information on handling bat presence in your home, taken from those press releases and other online sources:
- If you discover a bat in your home or other building, determine if any humans or pets may have been exposed to the bat.
- If an exposure is ruled out, the bat may be released outside through an open window.
- If a human or pet has been exposed to a bat, the bat should be captured and tested for rabies. You should not try to capture the bat yourself except as a last resort. The bat should not be crushed during capture since it then may not be acceptable for testing. If possible, have the bat captured by a professional pest control expert and sent to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Rabies Lab for testing. A listing of professional pest control companies can be obtained by contacting BDPH, 617-730-2300 or by going to www.brooklinema.gov/health/ and clicking Environmental Health Services.
- Do not pick up, touch or feed wild or stray animals of any kind. This includes leaving pet food outside for your own animals or other animals.
- Avoid sick or strange-acting animals.
- Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies.
- Fasten trash can lids tightly. Garbage attracts wild animals.
- Cap chimneys and seal openings into houses, garages, etc. For a brochure on critter-proofing your property, contact the BDPH, 617-730-2300 or click on “Environmental Health Services” atwww.brooklinema.gov/health/
- If you are bitten or scratched by any animal you should promptly wash the wound(s) with soapy water and see a healthcare provider immediately. You should also report the incident to BDPH.
- If your pet is bitten or scratched by another animal, wear gloves when handling or cleaning your pet. Afterwards, wash your hands thoroughly. Report the incident to your veterinarian and to BDPH.
If you have any questions regarding rabies or how to respond to bats in your home, please contact the BDPH at (617) 730-2300.
Important Telephone Numbers
- Brookline Department of Public Health (BDPH) (617) 730-2300
- Brookline Police Department (617) 730-2730 (for Animal Control Officer)
- Town Clerk's Office (617) 730-2010 (issues dog Licenses)
- Department of Public Works Highway Department (617) 879-4900 (for removal of Dead Animals from Public Ways)
- Mass. Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (617) 522-6008 or 800-628-5808 (To Report Abuse of Animals)
- Animal Rescue League (617) 426-9170 (responds to Injured Animals)
Pets that have been exposed to bats may need booster vaccinations and an observation period. Persons and pets exposed to bats should be reported to BDPH, 617-730-2300. Since there is often no visible bite mark or scratch left on the skin because of a bat’s small tooth size, bat bites may go undetected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “95 percent of people infected over the past 10 years were unaware they had been bitten or scratched.”
According to The Bat Guy, after you get a bat out of your home, you should ensure that bats are not roosting inside any gaps or holes in the home before you seal any cracks you suspect the bat may have entered through. If you seal before checking, you may inadvertently seal the bats inside the walls--or inside your house.
Editor's Note: The above is an aggregate of information from press releases issued last year. At this time, no new press releases have been issued, and there have not been any reports of rabies or other bat-related diseases. This is purely informational, based on my observations.