Bats & Rabies

Why should I be concerned about bats and rabies?

  • Unlike other mammals that carry rabies such as foxes, raccoons and skunks, bats cannot be vaccinated using baits.
  • Although rabies in bats is rare, bites from rabid bats have resulted in almost all of the human cases of rabies in Canada over the past several years.
  • Bats have small, needle-like teeth that result in bites that can go easily undetected. The victim may not be aware that a bite has occurred - especially while sleeping.

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Is it possible to identify if a bat has rabies?

It is not always possible to identify if a bat has rabies, however rabid bats may display the following signs:

  • They lose the ability to fly
  • They are active during daylight hours
  • They are not afraid of noises
  • They may appear to be lazy

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What do I do if I have come into contact with a bat, or find a bat indoors?

  • Seek medical attention and advice immediately if you have been bitten, scratched, or were exposed to bat saliva.
  • If you find a bat in a room with a child or adult unable to give a reliable history of the encounter, assume direct contact has been made.
  • If you walk into your home and see a bat, make absolutely sure there is no human or animal contact. Try to confine the bat to one room and contact animal control services. Do not try to capture the bat.
  • Notify the Health Department as soon as possible following any incident of possible exposure, even if you do not believe you were bitten.
  • If the bat is available (alive or dead), it may be sent for testing to rule out potential rabies exposure.

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How can I bat-proof my home?

  • Examine your home for holes that may allow bat entry (openings larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch should be caulked).
  • 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.

Contact a wildlife or pest control company for professional assistance.

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What is White Nose Syndrome?

  • A condition named for:
    • white fungus which grows on an affected bat’s:
      • face
      • ears
      • wings
    • poor body condition and dehydration
    • behavioural changes, such as bats flying in daylight hours during the winter and early spring

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What causes White Nose Syndrome and can it affect humans?

  • The cause of the syndrome is still under investigation.
  • It is not known to cause any human health issues. 

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Why is it important to be aware of White Nose Syndrome?

  • Affected bats are more likely to come into contact with the general public as they leave their hibernation sites far too early in the winter and early.
  • A small percentage of bats with White Nose Syndrome may also be rabid.
  • These bats become weak from lack of food and die out on the landscape.
  • Members of the public are asked NOT to handle any bats they may encounter.
  • Bat deaths should be reported to:
    • Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre
      1-866-673-4781
      OR
    • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
      1-800-667-1940 (Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Toll Free )
      1-866-686-6072 (TTY/Teletypewriter users only - Toll Free)

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Facts about bats

  • In Ontario, there are 2 bat species that will typically roost (nest) in homes:
    • The Big Brown bat has pale to dark brown fur, measures 7 cm long, and weighs 13-25 grams.
    • The Little Brown bat has silky reddish-coloured fur, is 4-5 cm long, and weighs 4-8 grams.
  • Bats are nocturnal animals and are most active in the second and third hours following sunset.
  • During the day they roost in trees and buildings.
  • They are able to squeeze through spaces as small as 6 mm to access roosts.
  • Bats help reduce the insect population and are vital to the ecosystem.

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